High-SchoolGirl: Kyley Reed

All-Star Spotlight: Playing for Coach Mom

December, 22, 2011
Kyley ReedCourtesy of Kyley ReedKyley Reed says playing for her mom went from rough at the start to rewarding at the end. "I could not have been more proud to be the coach's daughter."
Every week in “All-Star Spotlight,” members of the ESPNHS All-Star team tackle a hot topic in high school sports. Today, Kyley Reed, a senior volleyball player at Rocky Hill (Conn.), shares the highs and lows of playing for a coach who happens to be your mom.

I won’t deny it. Running sprints for someone who just reamed you because you still haven’t cleaned your room isn’t exactly easy to swallow. But welcome to the world of parent-coaching.

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Courtesy of Kyley Reed/ESPNHSKyley Reed is a senior volleyball player at Rocky Hill (Conn.).
When the line between parenting and coaching becomes nearly nonexistent, it is easy for tension and frustration to make their presence. Take my mom and I, for example.

In case you haven’t noticed, teenage girls find it particularly easy to argue with their moms. I am no exception.

And that is what we did -- my mom and I fought. A lot. So you can imagine that when she got a whistle in her mouth and a ball in her hand, the tension only grew thicker. And God forbid she started dancing in practice. That was usually when I made my exit.

But besides some harmless embarrassment, the tension between us was undeniable. At many practices, I made it clear that she was on my nerves. And although I wasn’t aware of this then, the problems between my mother and I had a negative effect on the whole team.

As long as the tension remained, the enjoyment decreased. It was impossible for me to have fun playing volleyball when I was always so annoyed with my mom. Additionally, it was impossible for the team to feel comfortable and grow as a unit if my mom and I were so obviously opposed to each other.

But then I realized something. I had never let school-related drama affect the way I played with my teammates, so why should I let petty drama at home affect the way I treated my mother as a coach? In the car, at home, and even in the lobby outside the gymnasium, she was my mom. But on the volleyball court, she was my coach. So I made a simple decision: I would recognize this and stick to it.

I had to swallow my pride and ignore my stubbornness and simply be another player on the team. And once I could do that, I would be able to enjoy the season, the team and the sport I loved.

And if you’re wondering how that worked out for me, it actually went quite well. We ended my senior season with a spectacular finish and a state title. And although I’d spent a large part of the season working to be “just another player” in my mom’s eyes, when she got to put that championship medal around my neck, we suddenly became very aware of our special relationship. And I could not have been more proud to be the coach’s daughter.

All of the suppressed comments and frustrated sighs directed at my mom over the course of the season didn’t matter then, because my mom was putting that medal around my neck and it was one of the most special moments we’ve ever had.

I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Editors note: Kyley was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year in Connecticut.

All-Star Spotlight: Starburst for your huddle?

October, 18, 2011
Every Tuesday and Thursday in “All-Star Spotlight,” members of the ESPNHS All-Star team tackle a hot topic in high school sports. Today, Kyley Reed, a senior volleyball player at Rocky Hill (Conn.), reveals the importance of the two red Starbursts she keeps in her bag.

Stuffed way in the corner of my volleyball backpack is a tiny red pouch. This pouch travels with me to every athletic event I attend. What lies inside this pouch is not very sentimental, it’s not magical, and it’s not really that cool. Inside this pouch are two red Starbursts.

Yes, it’s my favorite flavor, but I don’t even eat them. The only purpose these Starbursts serve is to sit in my backpack and remind me every once in a while of a lesson I once learned in a rather unusual team huddle.

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Courtesy of Kyley Reed/ESPNHSKyley Reed is a senior volleyball player at Rocky Hill (Conn.).
The team huddle I am referring to was unlike any other in that it was possibly the most unfitting huddle I’ve ever experienced. We were down 24-23, and we had just given the other team match point. Our coach was not happy, and neither were we. So she called a timeout, and we braced ourselves for her fury. We jogged over toward the bench and stood silent.

She waited a moment and studied our faces. Finally she began, “So, what’s everyone’s favorite flavor of Starburst?”

We stared at her with confused looks on our faces. Starburst?

Our coach turned to me waiting for an answer. Hoping I’d heard her correctly, I said timidly, “Well I guess I’d have to go with red.”

She then faced my other five teammates who also listed their favorite flavors with questioning expressions. Once she’d finished listening, she started chatting. It was match point and we now had 43 seconds left in this timeout and our coach was chatting. About Starburst. I wondered if this was real.

“I love the pink ones. All of the other ones I just leave in the wrapper.” She chuckled to herself and continued. “But I’m more of a Sour Patch kind of gal anyways.” Then one of my teammates chimed in, “Oh, Sour Patch all day!”

Laughter filled the huddle, and soon we were all shouting out opinions on the best Sour Patch Kids, Starburst and Skittles flavors.

“Green and yellow Skittles taste like Sprite, it’s wonderful!”

“Yellow Skittles?! Are you out of your mind?”

Our coach was not yelling, but we were.

And before we knew it, the buzzer blared and our timeout came to an end. So our coach began with a smile, “All right, guys. Just play. Keep those smiles on your faces and do what you know how to do.”

We walked out onto that court with no trace of defeat or nerves. We were relaxed and confident and had regained our energy. So we just played, and we won.

And that is the story behind those two red Starbursts that stay tucked in the corner of my volleyball backpack. Whenever it’s game point and I feel on the verge of a nervous breakdown, I think of Sour Patch, Starburst, and Skittles. I relax and just play.