University of Colorado freshman Kelsey English is proving that succeeding in college athletics is all in how you approach it. She found success in the fall as a right-side hitter on the CU volleyball team and earned a spot on the track and field team as a high jumper this spring.
English knows a lot about what it takes to do well in at the DI level. Attitude wise, this rare two-sport standout knows a positive approach is what it takes to succeed. And when it comes to athletic performance, her approach to jumping is taking her to new heights. Literally.
The Colorado Springs, Colo. native is living up to her billing as a highly recruited volleyball player. In the fall, she appeared in 26 of 29 volleyball matches as a right-side hitter. It was a new position for her as she was a middle blocker at Doherty High School.
Her freshman campaign saw her finish third on the team with 191 kills and 202.5 points. Her unorthodox jumping approach - she leaves the floor on one foot rather than the traditional two-foot liftoff most volleyball players use - has her reaching an impressive ten feet, six inches. In non-volleyball terms, that means English is a real force at the net.
"We knew that Kelsey was a gifted athlete when she signed with us," head volleyball coach Liz Kritza said. "We knew that she would eventually compete in both volleyball and track and field and it's great to see her having success so quickly in each sport."
And don't forget the Buffs' move from the Big 12 to the Pac-12 Conference, undoubtedly the top volleyball conference in the nation. The Pac-12 has won more NCAA volleyball titles than any other conference, including the 2011 championship which was captured by UCLA.
"Volleyball was a hard transition, especially at the Pac-12 level opposed to high school. But after finishing the season I feel like I am able to handle it all," English said.
That same one-foot jumping approach is serving her well in track, too. The two-time Colorado State High School 5A Champion high jumper (2009 and 2011) also broke her high school's record. She's not slowing down for the CU track team, either. Kelsey has represented the Buffs well in her first season with the track and field team, finishing near the top in all four track meets she has completed thus far. Not an easy task, considering the time commitments of a Pac-12 athlete, not to mention the academic requirements of a college freshman.
"It was fairly easy to transition to high jump because I did it for two years in high school and I practically practice my jumping everyday when I hit off of one foot in volleyball. Both sports kind of help each other out which takes away some of the difficulty," English explained.
English participated in three meets during the indoor season for CU and cleared an indoor best height of 5-7 at the CSM Twilight Open on Feb. 18. The Buffs have had just one outdoor meet this season, the Potts Invite (March 17) and English tied for second with a mark of 5-5.
Balancing volleyball and track and field can be hard. English practices with CU jumps coach Lindsey Malone twice a week and is currently putting in a lot of time with volleyball as the team is in the middle of its spring training. Due to volleyball's spring schedule, English will not be able to jump for the Buffs until April 28 at the Jack Christiansen Invitation in Fort Collins, Colo.
"Kelsey is an incredible individual and an amazing athlete," Malone said. "She has a tremendous work ethic and is truly focused on understanding all of the intricacies of high jump technique. She has a wonderful sense of humor, a fantastic personality and a calm confidence in competition. She has unending dedication to academics, volleyball and track and field. Excelling in one sport in Division I is a phenomenal feat; having the drive and ability to make an impact on two teams is quite remarkable. I admire her passion and I'm thankful for the opportunity to be able to help her follow her dreams as a two-sport athlete."
Kelsey's success as a student-athlete is proof that hard work, perseverance and a positive attitude can take a person higher and higher. It's all in how you approach it.