One of the hardest things to do in life is overcome uncertainty.
To look at Trophy Club Nelson volleyball player Kelli McKinnon, one would never imagine that might be an issue for her.
At 5’11” and selected as an all-district honorable mention in just her sophomore season, McKinnon is one of coach Libby Pacheco’s most versatile players this year, and yet, it’s taken her awhile to believe in herself.
“The biggest challenge I have had to overcome would probably be self-doubt and lack of confidence,” McKinnon said. “Although I am still overcoming these things, it [volleyball] has allowed me to grow mentally, helping me realize my potential in all aspects of my life.
“I never realized how much of an impact it makes in life until I developed that part of myself and let it influence my game. It really has made a positive effect in how I view myself as a person and what I can accomplish.”
Pacheco said she has noticed how last year’s success has contributed to McKinnon’s self-assurance on the floor.
“Kelli came in this year as a more aggressive and confident hitter and a much improved defensive player,” Pacheco said. “She was committed to getting better in the off season and it has definitely shown. So this season as we have worked to have a more balanced offense, she has been able to step into whatever role we have needed. Because she is such a versatile player, we have had some flexibility in our lineup and can count on her to be effective in whatever position she is playing.”
McKinnon said she has noticed an increase in confidence among her teammates as well this season and said she believes that is a good recipe for success.
“I’ve been blown away by our team this year and how far we’ve come since last season,” McKinnon said. “We have mentally and physically become a stronger team, and because of it, we’ve accomplished things this season that have never been done in the history of our program,” McKinnon said. “Our team is doing very well so far up to this point, and I’m confident we are just going to keep improving from here.”
Nelson won its first volleyball tournament in school history this season and has “beaten teams this year that we’ve always lost to in the past.”
McKinnon has had to play in multiple positions, and while that has presented its challenges, the Nelson junior said she enjoys it.
“It’s definitely been different from anything I’ve ever done,” McKinnon said. “I’ve always just been an outside who plays defense, but I never would have thought I’d be playing so many positions this year. It’s been an amazing opportunity to be able to experience ... and see the court differently and to explore my capabilities.”
Nelson was ranked 20th among Class 6A volleyball programs in the state according to the Texas Girls Coaches Association’s Sept. 25 poll, and Pacheco said McKinnon has certainly done her part to help the team achieve the success that it has so far this season.
“In a district that is as competitive as ours, it helps to have a player that can match up with some of the hitters and blockers that we face,” Pacheco said. “I have the luxury of moving her into different positions in our lineup to give us the best chance of winning on any given night.
“But the best part about her versatility is her attitude and willingness to do whatever she needs to for her teammates. That in itself is a great quality to have in a player.”