Hi Rhody! I'm back this week with my teammate, roommate, and friend Mckenzie Kielse! Those lucky enough to know Mak know that she is one of the most loyal and enthusiastic people, making her a great teammate and friend. Mak brings an infectious cheerfulness to every day, which is something we all appreciate – especially after a rough day of classes or practice. Let's find out how she does it!
MG: Why did you start playing volleyball?
MK: I started playing in one of those little kid recreational leagues when I was in second grade, and it just progressed from there. But I really only started playing because most other sports that I tried involved running, which I wasn't a huge fan of. So, it was either play volleyball or be a soccer goalie.
MG: Every player has their favorite volleyball memories, what was your favorite club/high school memory?
MK: Hands down my favorite memory was senior year winning State. It was our third year in a row making it to State, but in the previous two years we had lost both times. To make it even better, senior year it was against our biggest rival. I remember everyone storming the court and mosh-pitting around me after we won. It was the best feeling!
MG: Thanks to the lifelong friendships we've made here, and our love of volleyball, Rhody has become a second home for most of us on the team. What are some of the things that have made your experience here special?
MK: Honestly, the people. I've met all my best friends and made so many fun memories with these girls. I'm very blessed to be playing the sport I love alongside the people I love.
MG: You work extremely hard, and we see you studying pretty much 100% of the time that we're not playing or practicing. What is it like balancing your commitment to our team with the demands of being in URI's Nursing program? And what advice would you give someone who plans to play a Division I sport while pursuing such a demanding major?
MK: It's really not as bad as you think. I feel like I'm able to do just as much as someone with a different major. I have time to study and time to socialize all while playing volleyball. The advice I would give someone is just – don't try to be perfect. Do your best, but be realistic and know that sometimes you can't do it all and make amazing grades. It's more about making the most of your time here.
MG: What is your mentality throughout the day, knowing that you have to get through a full day of classes, clinical, and then a long practice and occasional lift? What gets you through?
MK: I just think about what I'm going to eat for dinner and that usually helps. Or something like – finish your homework and you can eat some ice cream afterwards.
MG: I consider myself lucky to have a teammate like you – someone that contributes a ton to what Rhody Volleyball is. In your opinion, what is the most important thing that you bring to the team?
MK: I feel like I bring energy when it's needed and always try to get people pumped up. I love playing when everyone is hyped up and enjoying themselves!
Without Mak, Rhody Volleyball would not be what it is. A quote we use on our team is "1 is greater than 15" – meaning that the team sticking together and playing as one unit is more powerful than playing as 15 individuals. This isn't just something we say, but something we feel when we play together. Teammates like Mak, who just bring people together, really help us be that "one". She's always making sure every player is included and having a great time, which is something we could never thank her enough for. Whether she's cracking jokes, busting out dance moves, or getting us all to go study with her in the library – she is a huge reason why Rhody Volleyball has such great team chemistry.
Until next time!