Kelsey Robinson has quickly become a key member of the US National Team. Since graduation at the University of Nebraska in 2013 she has made a meteoric rise up the depth chart and onto the court. She was included in the roster at the Montreux Volley Masters, starting four of the matches and averaging 3.93 points/set. She also made the trip to Italy where the team made history in Milan. What was this experience like? Of course, we had questions...
Five of them!
Here is Jamming in Five Questions, Kelsey Robinson!
BAIC Motor Volleyball
University of Nebraska
You and Tori Dixon are the "young guns" of the National Team. Who was the first to take you under her wing when you arrived in Anaheim and what was the transition like?
When I first arrived in Anaheim, many of the girls were extremely nice asking if I needed help or answered questions if I had any. I think the older girls really made me feel included and a part of this team right away. Kristen, Nicole Davis, Christa, and Courtney all made a huge impact in my transition to the National Team. They’ve helped me a ton in my first year. They are always open to give advice, help you in any way, and have been huge supporters and great teammates that I’ve been able to lean on. I think that is what makes this program so special. Every girl works as hard as they can at being a great player as well as a great teammate.
This winter you are in Beijing, China. How are the training methods and systems different and what do you hope to learn from the professionals there?
Beijing has been an awesome experience so far! The season is one of the shorter professional seasons so the training is hard and there are rarely days off. We are in the gym for most of the day. I start around 830 and finish at noon, and then we practice in the afternoon until about 6. It’s a lot of practicing, but I enjoy the training and we do a lot of defense and passing work. The professionals here do this day in and day out the entire year with only about a two week break after season. While I’m here I’m learning how to communicate and lead by not just verbal communication because often I can’t speak the language. Being here has helped me to use more body language cues and to broaden my sense of leadership.
You are known as a complete player. What do you feel are your strengths and what part of your game still needs the most work?
As an outside hitter I believe the ability to play every part of the game well is an advantage. Growing up I was always playing against the wall with a volleyball or finding any way I could to practice. This, along with years of practicing and work, has allowed me to develop good ball control skills. I think at any age or level though, you are always trying to push yourself and be better. I’m constantly trying to find new ways to improve parts of my game, my body, my mental performance, anything that can make me a better all around player. One of the best things that we emphasized in the USA gym that I have carried with me to China, is the concept of mindful reps. You can get as many reps as you want in the gym, but if you weren’t locked in mentally or trying to correct something you are working on than the rep is wasted. I think this is important for many younger girls to understand because it can make the difference between being good and being great.
What is the most striking thing about Beijing and how are you coping with the language barrier?
The most striking thing about Beijing is how much I love it! Honestly I was a bit nervous to come just because the culture is very different than ours. After the first couple weeks adjusting, I have been able to explore a little and have tasted a variety of foods. My best advice to anyone coming would be don’t be scared to try the food. They have a ton of good options and you can find something almost anywhere. My favorite so far is pineapple fried rice, a soup noodle dish, and Beijing is known for their giant cranberry balls covered in a sugar glaze. You can find them almost anywhere. I also really enjoy all the history there is in the city. Almost everywhere I’ve gone or seen has a story behind it as to why it is there and it’s fascinating. The language barrier has been a bit difficult. In other countries it can be a little easier to understand or figure it out but that isn’t the case here. I have a translator that has made things a lot better. For the most part, when I’m on my own, it is one big game of charades and how well you can show them using hand motions.
It has to be humbling to share the court with so many incredible athletes. Did you have a "holy crap" moment where you realized how far you have come? How did you snap out of it?
For me, any time I walk in the USA gym is very humbling. Knowing I get to be a part of this program and to represent my country is an amazing opportunity. I’m surrounded by incredible athletes and incredible coaches who only want this program to be the best it can be. It makes it easy to walk in the gym for practice every day and give it everything you have. One of the best moments for me was when I had made my first roster and was going to Switzerland to play in the Montreux Masters. Christa Dietzen came up to me in Anaheim and told me she was so excited to play with me for the first time. Christa is one of the most respected players in the world, and for her to say that to me was a moment I won’t forget.
Video Courtesy of USA Volleyball
As a broadcast journalism major what is your ultimate goal for your career after volleyball?Will we be hearing from Kelsey on the sidelines of an NFL game or would you like to be sitting at a nice warm news desk?
As a broadcast journalism major, I would love to do sideline reporting or be a field analyst when I’m done playing. I would enjoy doing any sporting event, but I think it would be especially fun to do some volleyball and be able to grow the game for fans.
Thank you Kelsey for crushing our "Five Questions"! Enjoy Beijing and safe travels back to Anaheim.