A sport that started as cross training for basketball shortly became a sport that would send Bartlett native Kelsey Robinson to the Olympics.
“I grew up in Chicago playing basketball my whole life and I started volleyball as cross training for basketball to work on other phases of my games,” Kelsey Robinson said.
Robinson began playing volleyball at age 10 during the basketball off season. She fully committed to volleyball her sophomore year at St. Francis High School and quit playing basketball.
“I think the greatest aspect of it [volleyball] is the competition but what kind of makes it so much fun is the team dynamic of it,” Robinson said.
Robinson says volleyball is one of the biggest team sports there is because each player heavily relies on their teammates to get the ball over the net.
“You can’t set the ball unless the pass is there,” Robinson said. “You’re just so reliant on your teammates it builds this trust element to the game. You just really have to know the person next to you and how they respond to things.”
Robinson fell in love with volleyball because the dynamic was so vastly different from basketball.
“I think both sports you have to train hard and you have to put in a lot of work,” Robinson said. ‘I think the biggest difference is the amount of jumping and the explosiveness.”
The volleyball Olympian said she is one of the more competitive people in the gym and hates to lose.
“I love competing and I love playing,” Robinson said. “I just want to tear people’s heads off.”
Growing up in a family that was very baseball, football and basketball oriented, volleyball was an unfamiliar sport to the Robinsons.
“Volleyball to them was very foreign, they didn’t know how to help me.” Robinson said.
Robinson’s mother played basketball when she was younger and her only advice to her daughter was to “play defense and your offense will come.”
“Now I pride myself as defensive player,” Robinson said.
Being a defensive player has surely brought Robinson many successes in her volleyball career. She was named the second best outside spiker for the 2015 FIVB World Grand Prix and of course making the Women’s USA Volleyball team roster for the 2016 Rio Games.
"To know that I will always be an Olympian, no one will take that way from me,” Robinson said.