Maddie Kleemeyer’s dream of playing college volleyball was nearly dashed. Then, her high school coach came to the rescue.
Kleemeyer, a 2021 Adna graduate, was on the cusp of graduation in May and had reached out to Centralia College volleyball head coach Susan Gordon to let her know she was interested in joining the Trailblazers. After two weeks of no response, Kleemeyer felt deflated.
“My hopes were pretty low, I’m not gonna lie,” Kleemeyer said.
So she contacted her high school coach, Wendie Dotson, asking for advice on what to do next. Dotson said she’d reach out to Gordon and do her best to get Kleemeyer a tryout. It worked.
“Susan got back to me and it’s been great ever since,” Kleemeyer said.
Kleemeyer dominated her team tryout, showcasing the setting and hitting skills that earned her consecutive all-league honors the past two years. As a senior, she served 83% with 35 aces, 29 kills and 60 digs.
She then went to Gordon’s office after the tryout and was offered a scholarship. She could hardly believe it.
“It didn’t feel real,” Kleemeyer said. “I couldn’t be more excited.”
Kleemeyer’s volleyball career began in third grade, when she wanted to give sports a try. She remembers thinking volleyball didn’t look too hard, so she figured why not?
“I tried it, I loved it, I stuck with it and here I am,” Kleemeyer said.
She also ran track and field in middle school but, being more of an individual sport, it didn’t have the same magic and camaraderie as volleyball.
“I’m not a very contact-sport type of person, so I love there’s that competitive feeling when you’re on the other side of the net from the opposing team,” Kleemeyer said. “Just the excitement I get with all the groups of girls I’ve been with. It’s amazing. I don’t have words to describe the feeling. It’s one of the best feelings ever when you have a team that supports you like you support them. You feel limitless.”
She’s been playing on club teams since she was 15 years old, traveling all over the U.S for competitions. Most recently, she’s been playing for PacWest Volleyball Academy in Kelso.
“It’s taken up a lot of my time but there’s no complaints about it,” Kleemeyer said.
She already knows a few of her new teammates from past club volleyball seasons, including a couple local women, such as Mossyrock alum Andee Nelson and Onalaska grad Olivia Mitten.
This summer, she’s traveled with some of the Trailblazers to three youth camps across the state, in Napavine, Sunnyside and Davenport. Toledo grad and fellow Centralia College signee Kate Demery also traveled with the group.
The Trailblazers first official team practice of the 2021-22 season begins Aug. 13. They are coming off a 1-10 overall record and Kleemeyer is looking forward to the challenge of playing at the college level and sharpening her skills even more.
“Even though I learned a lot in high school and club, I know college is a whole nother step up from that and I’m excited to see how much I grow from that,” Kleemeyer said.
And she’s grateful to Dotson for all the help she’s provided over the years. Dotson was her first youth coach when she started in third grade and was her final prep coach. Without her, Kleemeyer said, none of this would be possible.