A-K Valley Senior Spotlight: Deer Lakes’ Kyle Blackwell

Monday, June 27, 2022 | 12:41 PM

Kyle Blackwell spent his past four seasons playing volleyball at Deer Lakes.

The right-side hitter always had a passion for the sport and was motivated to play after watching his older sister, Allison Blackwell, play for the Lancers.

Blackwell was the team’s only senior this season. On Senior Night, he helped the Lancers score a 3-0 victory over South Park.

His efforts throughout the season earned him a spot on the all-section third team.

Although he considered it a down season, he is grateful for the four years at Deer Lakes and is appreciative of his coaches, teammates and family.

Blackwell took a few minutes last week for an A-K Valley senior spotlight Q&A:

What’s your favorite gym you’ve played in?

It would be our high school court. It’s the most special one.

How would you describe last season?

Last year was rough. We had to wear masks while practicing, and that’s tough to do. I get cottonmouth and a real dry mouth and in school last year, because of how hard we work and having to wear a mask, I would try to drink a bottle of water a period. I don’t mean like the 16-ounce bottle — my bottle is, like, 24 ounces — just to stay hydrated.

How was it being the only senior on the team?

It is pretty weird not playing with the people I’ve been playing with so closely as the rest of the years. Sure, I get the feeling that people kind of look up to how I act and how I play and stuff, so there’s a little bit of pressure there.

What was it like to be a captain and to step up into a leadership-type role?

We get in our heads — like getting stuck, being too worried about stuff, not moving on and continuing to play — getting stuck on small things, which messes up playing. I’ve always tried to be the guy who tries to help prevent that because I never really got in my head. As a player, I tried to help other people out, so it was kind of a big thing.

How did it feel to be selected for the all-section third team in your senior season?

It definitely was surprising. I feel like we really became a team a little too late and got ready to play and play hard a little too late, which is kind of a shame, but it definitely was nice to not have a complete losing year.

How much have your teammates helped you over the past four seasons?

Last year’s graduates, they definitely meant the most to me and they were a good group. As a team together, they were a good team because they were all close friends. They gave me the first experience of volleyball when I started in seventh grade and they were in eighth grade because we all practiced together in middle school. I learned the ropes from them, and so they were definitely the most influential. They are a good example of a team. They played well. That was a great group, and I do really admire them all.

What do your coaches mean to you?

I’ve liked all my coaches. Between middle school and now, I’ve had four coaches, and I’ve learned a lot from them. I wish I took their word to heart sooner than I did.

What coach has had an impact on your volleyball experience?

The one I looked up to the most was B.J. Reiher. He’s a great guy and a great coach, and it was really awesome to play under his coaching.

How much does your family mean to you?

My sister played girls volleyball. She’s four years older than me. I remember playing in the backyard with her and stuff when I was in middle school. Beyond that, we didn’t really play volleyball together that much. We would go to the park and play at the sand court sometimes. Family-wise, she was definitely the most influential, and my parents always helped to just keep me determined to keep playing and playing hard and make sure I’m working hard and not slacking and stuff.

Who has pushed you the hardest?

Honestly, my teammates. My teammates just have each other’s back, and that’s always a big thing because you can’t always get to every ball. Everybody makes mistakes that happen, but a big thing is when people don’t get to it or when somebody makes a mistake, you have their back.

What’s next for you?

I’m going to trade school at Pittsburgh Technical College, and I’m going to be an electrician technician.


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