Hurricane High School has one special returning senior coming back this year for their volleyball team, and her name is Kansas Lytle. Few student-athletes are as diversified and committed to their academics, family, and extracurricular participation.
Though she has lived in Hurricane for the past 5 years, Kansas was raised on a ranch, which she suggests was a key element in developing her character. “Growing up on a ranch, there was a lot of work to be done, and that has since really helped me in school and athletics. One thing that coaches have always liked about me is that I do work hard.”
Taking a peak into the courses Kansas has in school is a sure indicator of her strong work ethic. With ambitions to be involved in the medical field, Kansas has already launched herself into more rigorous forms of study. “I take honors class, and this year I am also taking concurrent enrollment classes for college credit.” Kansas explains that though her teachers are cooperative, they still expect quality work completed on time. In addition to participating in multiple sports, her larger academic workload and expectant teachers have thus caused Kansas to learn greater time management. “You have to know what to do when, and if you have games or track meets coming up, you really have to prepare a lot beforehand.” Susan, Kansas’s mother, adds, “She’s really good about planning her time, and making sure it gets done. She stays on top of it, and is very responsible.”
The Lytle household consists of Kansas, her one older brother, and their mother Susan. With Susan working and being enrolled in school all last year, she explains the great help that Kansas was in their home. “She was really good to help get dinner going and help around the house. We’ve made it with the three of us, and Kansas and her brother have been a team. They both have picked up the different things that need to be done.” However, aside from helping out around her home, Kansas has found time to assist in other areas. She is a member of an active youth group that provides service around their community.
If you inquire about the plans Kansas has made for her future, you will find that she has already made arrangements for after her graduation. “I want to be a hospital corpsman, and have already enlisted in the Navy.” In Kansas’s own words, a hospital corpsman is “the equivalent of a nurse”, serving in the United States Navy, and who may also serve in the United States Marine Corps. Kansas continues, “Right now I am in the delayed entry program. I go to meetings once a month to get all of the information I need before boot camp. My ship date will be next year in July.” To further impress, Kansas admits that she will be earning college credit while enrolled in the Navy, in pursuit of her BSN Degree, or Bachelors of Science in Nursing.
In terms of volleyball, Kansas reveals one of her favorite aspects of the game. “It’s a very mental sport. Everybody has to be on the same wavelength, and everybody has to work together.” Hurricane’s volleyball team acknowledges the importance of unity among their players, which may be one of the contributing reasons that they hold practice twice a day. Practice is often held for two hours before school, and then two hours immediately following the end of school.
If you assumed work stopped and breaks were given during the offseason, you underestimate the Hurricane Tigers. Before going over her personal training, Kansas explains that during the offseason, she and her team are always competing in tournaments and working hard during open gyms. “If there’s even one person that’s off,” Kansas says, “it can throw off the entire dynamic of the game. In volleyball, it’s everybody, and it has to be everybody.” She adds regarding her personal training, “For me, I like to stay in shape by going running and working out. I try to stay on my toes that way.”
As a senior member of the team, and competing in the outside hitter position, Kansas takes a moment to reveal her feelings about the upcoming season. “We’ve had a couple rough seasons, and now we are starting completely over. We have a new head coach and with only four seniors, we have a really young team. But it’s been great! As we get playing together and as we spend more time in the gym, we get used to relying on each other and having confidence in each other.” Kansas recognizes that with a majority of her teammates being young, she and her fellow seniors hold much responsibility. She says, “We’ve had the experience, and it really puts us in a position where we have to be leaders.”
Nonetheless, Kansas has great faith and confidence in her younger teammates. “They have a lot of talent and a lot of potential.” She humbly adds, “It’s great to see the younger girls really start reaching out. They even help us older girls if we miss something, and it’s been really good.” Susan offers what she believes is the best part of watching the team, and her daughter specifically, compete. “I think the most fun thing is to watch her improvement. From the moment when she first started until now, and to watch how hard she’s worked. To watch all of the team work together, and build and grow together, has been really fun.”
Kansas recalls her sophomore year, when she was still playing in the Varsity gym. “We had a really tough group of seniors. They were All-State, not just in the sport, but in academics. They were just fantastic players and fantastic people on and off the court. It’s still kind of a goal, even though they graduated two years ago, to make them proud. To play like they played, and it’s been a big motivation.” Kansas also opened up about her team’s unique pre-game tradition. “We always play some silly little game so that we relax. It helps us laugh a little, and focus in with our communication, which is a huge part of the game.”
As a senior, Kansas says that she wants her team to most remember about her that she was a hard worker, and that she always tried to help others improve, and still improve herself. Her mother Susan adds that though it’s hard knowing that this is her daughter’s final year, she knows Kansas will do great things. “She’s excited to work in the Navy hospitals and serve her country.”
Kansas leaves us with her favorite quote, which comes from the Disney movie Cinderella. “Have courage and be kind.” • HSSI