HIGHLAND — As soon as doctors treated Kizzy Willey's broken finger last August, she hustled her way back to the volleyball court.
She couldn't play, but the Lone Peak senior loves the game so much she did anything to be a part of the action — even sweeping the floor.
"When she broke her finger this summer (during a camp for the Junior National team), she'd go get her ice pack from the trainers and then come back to the court," said her mom and Lone Peak assistant coach Cindy Willey. "Several girls were injured during tryouts and they'd go into the training room and hang out for the day. She'd come (to the gym) and without being asked, fill her teammates' water bottles, bring balls to the court, shag balls, just whatever was needed."
Her effort didn't go unnoticed as one of the coaches for the USA High Performance Team that competed in the NORCECA Championships in August mentioned it.
"He said, 'We knew she was a team player when we saw her do that'," said Cindy Willey. "She's just a detail-oriented kid. Some of that is her personality and some of it is good coaching. She's had two great coaches in (Snow Canyon's Alaina) Parker and (Lone Peak head coach Deanna) Meyer. They've taught her that there are no small things."
Willey lived in St. George and attended Snow Canyon for her freshman and sophomore season. The family moved to Highland the summer before her junior year and Willey became a key player in the Knights' success.
The Knights earned a region title and second-place finish at state behind the player her parents refer to as Kama-Kizzy because of her fearless effort. Willey was named Gatorade Player of the Year in volleyball and the 4.0 student will graduate this month so she can start working out with her new teammates at Arizona State in January.
In addition to playing with the Junior National team in Nicaragua this summer, she is competing in the AVCA Under Armour High School All-America game as a first-team selection Friday.
Her athleticism was just one of the reasons other team's had so much trouble trying to slow her down.
"Kizzy is a strong athlete," said Pleasant Grove head coach Allyce Jones. "One of her strengths is how strong she is mentally. Her strong confidence in herself is what made her so tough to play against."
Meyer said Willey's evolved as a player because she doesn't just focus on the physical aspects of the game.
"I think she's become more refined as a player," said Meyer. "She's just more intelligent, smarter as a player, and she's really turned into a leader."
Meyer said Willey's leadership style is to do so by example.
"She works hard, she's very positive and encouraging with her teammates," Meyer said. "She knows that she needs her teammates to be successful in order for her to be successful."
Meyer said that unlike some star players, Willey has always put the success of the team before accolades for herself.
"She's really mature," said Meyer. "She's always understood the importance of developing and fostering her teammates. She has always valued and nurtured personal relationships."
Cindy Willey said her daughter is so driven that her parents, coaches and even her trainer have to remind her that rest is an important component of training.
"She's extremely goal-oriented and driven," said her mom. "I've never had to get on her to do her homework or clean her room. If she wanted to work out, then she set her clock, got up and went and worked out."
Part of her work ethic may come from the fact that her parents asked her to either help with their ranch or get involved in activities.
"There was no sitting around," said Cindy Willey with a laugh.
Because her mom was a coach, Willey felt the extra burden of proving that her playing time was earned — not a gift.4 comments on this story
"She had to work twice as hard to prove herself," said Cindy Willey.
Her passion for the game is exceeded only by her affection for the girls with whom she's shared that beloved court.
"I'm going to miss high school a lot," Kizzy Willey said of leaving early. "High school is different than anything else. It's more rah-rah and school spirit. I'm definitely going to miss that and my teammates."
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