Kacey Nady’s volleyball career takes her from Yuma to Eugene
Oregon volleyball trounced Arizona in straight sets last Wednesday for its sixteenth win of the season. Perhaps the victory was sweetest for middle blocker and Arizona-native Kacey Nady, whose friends and family from her hometown of Yuma watched her amass four kills and two block assists.
“I feel bad,” Nady said in regards to defeating her home state. “But of course at the same time I wanted to beat the crap out of them.”
Nady spent 16 years of her life in Yuma, but it wasn’t until she left Arizona that her volleyball career soared.
Opportunities to play organized volleyball were scarce in Yuma. Nady’s freshman year at Kofa High School was her first season playing volleyball competitively, but it didn’t take long for her potential to be recognized. Natural athletic ability runs in her family; her father played four years of college football for SMU and her cousin Xavier Nady has played professional baseball for 14 years.
By her sophomore year at Kofa, Nady led her volleyball team to two regional titles, lettered in three sports including basketball and track and field and was named Athlete of the Year. In many respects, she had already reached her ceiling for success in Yuma at 15 years old.
With two years of unprecedented success under her belt, Nady realized she had the talent, frame and mindset necessary to elevate her game to the next level. With no club teams to join in Yuma, Nady made the pivotal decision to move to San Diego, where she would attend West Hills High School and join the famed Coast Volleyball Club in order to challenge herself and pursue her volleyball dreams.
Nady arrived in San Diego and moved into an extra room in the house of her father’s friend, whom she hadn’t spoken to since she was five years old. She didn’t know anyone at her new school and was now separated from her family by 170 miles. The decision to leave home was a difficult one, not only for Kacey, but for her parents as well. Her mother Karen had her fair share of concerns, but says it was Kacey’s confidence and maturity that assured her it was the right move.
“Yuma is small and limiting for sports competition and even for finding a basic job,” Karen said. “Like anything in life, you can’t hold your kid back; you have to let them go.”
Nady’s departure from home came earlier than expected, but the risk paid off as she thrived in southern California. She led West Hills to league championships in her junior and senior seasons and helped Coast Volleyball Club to a tenth place finish at the Junior Olympics. She moved into two more homes during that time, including those of her volleyball teammate and chemistry classmate.
Nady’s performance quickly garnered attention from top volleyball schools, and eventually she settled on the University of Oregon. Nady played in 24 matches for the Ducks as a freshman and now ranks fourth on the team in points and kills and second in total blocks in her sophomore season. Her .374 hitting percentage leads the team.
Despite the distance between them, Kacey and her mother still text and Snapchat each other every day. Karen watches all the games on TV and sees them in person when she can.
“Ever since I moved away we’ve become so much closer,” Kacey said. “My mom’s my favorite person in the world.”
Nady will return to her home state when the Ducks play the sequels in their series against Arizona and Arizona State on Nov. 13 and 15.
Follow Kenny Jacoby on Twitter @kennyjacoby
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