Unless you walk every day between Juniper Hall and Jerome Richfield Hall, or you actually attend one of the women’s volleyball games, you might not notice freshman Kayla Wright, who is the 5-foot-6-inch setter for the CSUN women’s volleyball team.
Born on May 17, 1987, in Kansas City, Missouri, Wright moved out to Murrieta, California due to her father’s job.
Before moving to Northridge for college, Wright lived in the same house surrounded by the same neighbors.
“I lived in a small town with pretty much nothing out there. The closest grocery store was 15 minutes away, in Lake Elsinore,” Wright said. “But now Murrieta is turning into a mini-LA.”
Growing up in a small town suited Wright. She lived with her parents, Shelley and Mike, who nurtured her volleyball talents. Her mother got Wright interested in volleyball by taking her to every tournament possible and making sure she did the extra work necessary to succeed in the sport.
“My mom used to coach me in volleyball when I was younger,” Wright said. “She used to do everything for me. I am a mommy’s girl.”
Wright also lived with her 14-year-old brother Brian. Wright said her brother is over six feet tall and plays ice hockey, which she finds interesting.
Wright is also an animal lover, with one dog, two cats and a couple of goldfish, which she won.
Volleyball occupies the majority of Wright’s time wile she was going to Murrieta Valley High School. If she did not have practice for her school team, she had club practice early, usually on a Saturday mornings.
Wright also did a lot of other activities that a non-athlete would do while in high school.
“We would go to the beach a lot and have bonfires with our friends. We would love to hang out and go to movies and I went to homecoming and prom with my boyfriend.”
Wright recently celebrated her 19-month relationship with her boyfriend, Denver. The two met while in their junior year in history class. Wright sat behind him and the two would get into trouble for talking. They have been together ever since.
“It is really sad because he lives about 40 minutes away and I don’t get to see him very much,” Wright said. “He plays football at Mt. San Jacinto College, but we try to see each other as often as possible.”
Like most young people who are out on their own for the first time, Wright enjoys college life and the freedom that comes with it. She likes the idea of not having a curfew, being able to hang out whenever she wants, and loves how open CSUN is.
Wright shares a dorm room with three other freshman teammates from the volleyball team, Kelley Hanson, Jenn Probert and Darla Donaldson who Wright has known for a while.
“I have been playing club with Darla for two years and it was exciting that we both had the opportunity to come here,” Wright said. “We have connections on and off the court.”
Besides volleyball, Wright is interested in fashion. She loves clothes and picking out clothes for people to wear. Wright, whose major is business, will soon be adding an emphasis in marketing to her.
Wright has received awards for her hard work and dedication to volleyball. In 2004, she was chosen to be on the first team all-southwestern league and was also a second team all-area pick.
“I had been waiting to receive an award all four years of playing high school volleyball and to have six seniors (make) the first team all-southwestern league – it was really special,” Wright said.
“It was great to be recognized for all the hard work I did and being the only setter on the team made it really cool,” she added
When coming to play for CSUN, Wright was not sure what to expect. She was sure the volleyball being played would be more competitive, but she was surprised to learn that the practices were not as tough as she thought.
“I thought it was going to be hard-core weight training and sprinting everyday just to make sure you were in shape,” Wright said. “It is actually really fun because all the girls get along really well and we all cheer each other on.”
This year’s volleyball team is close because they are all the similar ages; the team has nine freshman and no seniors. However, the inexperience has not led to intimidation from the Matadors. The team has played tough against mny of its more seasoned opponents.
In the opening tournament of the season, CSUN had a one-game lead on Arizona State, but struggled to finish the job, losing in five games.
Instead of being discouraged, the Matadors came back in its next match, defeating UNLV in five games. The team then lost to St. Mary’s, its first ranked opponent.
In the beginning of September, CSUN beat then No. 25 Pepperdine in Malibu, and in that match Wright had a solo block on the 6’4 freshman, Julie Rubenstein.
“I am still trying to clean up my hands and learn my new teammates,” Wright said. “(Me) and the team are still learning.”
The Matadors have now lost four straight matches, three last week in Hawaii against No. 10 UCLA, University of Hawaii, Cincinnati, and Northern Iowa the week prior. Conference play began Saturday.
“I am very excited (about) conference,” Wright said. “I think we have some good matches under our belt and I know we will be ready for (it).”
Volleyball takes up a large portion of her life, but that does not stop her from enjoying college. She has made new friends. She is trying a new environment and doing something that a majority of us only dream about doing, play sports at the collegiate level.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Ms. Wright.
Justin Satzman can be reached at email@example.com.