Kennedi Smith, Hannah Erwin close College Park volleyball season with signatures to play in college
THE WOODLANDS, Texas — Just a few short days after College Park’s volleyball team saw the end of their season, Kennedi Smith and Hannah Erwin took their first steps in a new direction as they signed their letters of intent to play at the collegiate level.
Both Kennedi and Hannah, two out of the three returning seniors for the Lady Cavaliers, made big contributions to their team’s success and had record breaking seasons with Hannah’s 1,792 career assists and Kennedi’s 1,147 career digs.
The girls started playing volleyball competitively when they were around 10 years old, and both of them had sisters go through the program at College Park. Hannah, who signed with the University of Denver, had two older sisters as role models play at the collegiate level, and she said they sparked her own interest in continuing her athletic career in college.
“My first sister signed when I was in the seventh grade, so I’ve kind of just been looking up to them my whole life, and they came through this school so it was cool to see them sign and go to their parties here,” Hannah said. “It was cool to finally be able to accomplish what they had accomplished.”
As a freshman, Kennedi entertained the thought of a collegiate career as an athlete, but she didn’t know how far she would get. Standing at 5’7’’, the outside hitter struggled with the fear of her height as her interest in playing in college grew.
“I was struggling through junior year with where I wanted to go because I didn’t know if any colleges would want me for outside because of my height,” Kennedi said. “But then I found New Hampshire, and they wanted me and I was very excited about that.”
Hannah and Kennedi have a blatant comradeship on the court, but it wasn’t always that way. Admitting that the two didn’t get off to a very good start, Hannah said that she and Kennedi had some conflict to work through as underclassmen. As they got older, Kennedi said they matured in knowing that they would be the team leaders and began to cooperate.
“I think that as we went from being the underclassmen and sharing that role and then becoming the juniors and seniors that led the team, it was important for us to cooperate and start working together to show everyone this is what being a team means,” Hannah said. “Just being able to exhibit that through how we play together is good for them to see.”
As they’ve grown together through College Park’s volleyball program, both Kennedi and and Hannah have learned valuable lessons in team chemistry and how far a positive attitude can take a team. With a mass exodus of talented athletes and only three returning varsity players, Hannah said she was unsure of the team’s potential during her last season as a high school athlete. She said she realized that a negative attitude wasn’t going to help her team and dedicated her last year to aiding in the athletic development of the underclassmen.
“Getting to be that role for them and kind of bonding with them and getting them ready for next year is kind of what I took on as my job,” Hannah said. “I think using that in college is going to be a really big deal, especially walking in as a freshman you can use that to your advantage.”
With Hannah red shirting and Kennedi traveling all the way to the upper east coast to attend University of New Hampshire, the two college-bound athletes have long journeys ahead. If the two have learned anything, it’s that selfless service and good relationships with teammates are the foundations to athletic success.
“Things will be a lot different, but I’m excited to adjust to the differences, and I think it’s going to be a fun four years I’ll have in New Hampshire,” Kennedi said. “It’s especially going to be different from Texas going to New Hampshire, but I think that it will be easy to adjust with the people helping me out.”