Larger than Life: Wesleyan's Kendra Koetter
Being the daughter of an NFL assistant coach, Kendra Koetter has come to understand a few things during her young life.
For one, she definitely knows what it’s like to have to deal with high expectations year in and year out. She’s watched her father, Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, do so throughout his coaching career.
She also knows that a move to a new city is possible at any time. It nearly happened for the second time in as many years when her father reportedly interview for more than one head coaching opening.
Through the constant distraction of potentially having to leave new friends and teammates she just met and living up to extremely high expectations she brought with her when she moved to metro Atlanta last year, the Wesleyan volleyball standout has managed to keep a level head.
“Volleyball (season) always starts right away (in the school year),” the junior setter said. “So, you’re always able to build new relationships right away. … If I have to move, I’d be upset, but I’d be OK because I would have a chance to establish (new) relationships quickly.
“I didn’t really feel that any (added) pressure (coming into Wesleyan). High school (volleyball) is more fun and more sociable than club. And one of the reasons we chose Wesleyan was to be part of a successful program. And after meeting the girls, we became like family.”
True, Wesleyan has built up it own reputation for success by winning five state championships in a six-season span from 2004-09.
But it’s doubtful that the even the Wolves have seen a player enter their program with as big a reputation as Koetter’s when she came to Wesleyan last year.
In addition to a strong performance for several years on the junior club circuit, Koetter had earned national attention during her freshman season at the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla., competing in one of the top high school volleyball states in the nation.
And after being named one of the nation’s top 59 high school freshmen by PrepVolleball.com, she only enhanced her reputation with an even stronger sophomore season at Wesleyan last year, accumulating 893 assists, 118 kills and 215 digs and earning first-team All-County honors from the Daily Post and being selected first-team All-State by the Georgia Volleyball Coaches Association.
As difficult as it is to imagine, Wesleyan coach Ted Russell believes Koetter has only scratched the surface of her potential.
“Anytime you look at a setter who can run a fast offense, all you do is put yourself on a higher level of teams,” Russell said. “She’s able to run a fast offense, and it makes our middle hitters and outside hitters better. But her club experience (this past summer) has made her even better. She’s learned how to play defense better. She’s learned how to jump serve better. It’s made her a more versatile player.”
Indeed, Koetter says that the time she spent this summer with the A-5 club based out of Roswell has made a difference that even she herself could not have imagined.
“I really saw the game in a whole new way,” Koetter said. “I did think I was a little weak defensively (heading into the summer), and my serving was inconsistent. (But) it’s opened new doors to how I see the floor and how I see my teammates.”
Combined with her already competitive nature, Russell believes Koetter’s more well-rounded game will only prove to make her and the Wolves even more dangerous this fall.
“She’s a natural leader,” Russell said. “She’s a fireball in terms of competitiveness, The relationship between a setter and a young hitter is important, and her competitive nature is infectious to those around her.
“The other thing about her is, she can hurt (opponents) in different ways. She’s shown a real IQ on the court, and she’s not someone you can focus on one thing to stop her.”