Kennedy Washington loves ‘everything’ about UK volleyball

Published 2:34 pm Thursday, May 16, 2024

Middle blocker Kennedy Washington did not have a typical journey to becoming a member of the Kentucky volleyball team.


She was a two-time state champion in Texas who had 137 kills and .329 hitting percentage her senior year after getting 324 kills with 130 blocks her junior year. She verbally committed to San Diego in February of her junior year but “did not take some factors into account” and later changed her mind.

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“After I decommitted, I worked on myself as a player. I had to learn patience. I wasn’t talking to people (college coaches),” she said. “I was trying to grow and get better on and off the court.”


She eventually started sending highlights to college coaches and UK coach Craig Skinner reached out. She visited Lexington and “loved everything” about UK and the volleyball program.


“I even got (phone) numbers from some of the girls and started talking to them on social media apps. I was texting some of them every day,” Washington said. “I sat down with Craig and talked about the future at Kentucky and he sold me on the school.”


She likes the way Skinner develops players to prepare them for the next level and understands she likely will be playing behind players who would be eventual pros.


“I knew he would push me to my limit. I felt so close to him and he was so easy to talk to,” Washington said.


She had no contact with Kentucky before decommitting and starting her recruiting completely over.


“It was hard. My club and high school coaches helped me. They reached out to Craig. Without them, I would not be at this point,” Washington said.


Washington says she is “not a jumpy type player” but more of a locked-in player.


“I love to uplift my teammates but not in a rowdy way. I try to hold my composure in tough situations and teammates like that. Even if we are winning by a lot, I play like we are losing,” she said.


She liked that Skinner jokes and has fun. She liked that he has former players on his staff who wanted to come back and work for him. However, what she really liked was the team’s winning attitude.


“They really want to win the SEC and it shows in how much work they put in and things they do outside of practice time alone or together to get better,” Washington said.


Washington will accompany the team to Japan May 19-29 for five exhibition matches. The team will be sightseeing through Tokyo with scheduled visits to bullet trains, the Osaka Castle, Dontonbori, Kyoto, Money Bamboo Forest, Main Palace, Meiji Shrine, Harajuku, Shibuya and Asakusa.


“I don’t want to say getting to go to Japan sold me on Kentucky but it is definitely a big benefit. I have always wanted to travel to Asia and I get to do that and bond with the team at the same time,” she said. “I love the Japanese national team. They are so smart. It’s going to be great getting to go.”


Washington considers herself a “mature” person and hopes that will make her full-time transition to college easier.


“I have always been very independent. My parents taught me not to depend on others. I wake myself up for school. I get my own clothes out. I taught myself to ride a bike and to tie my shoes,” she said. “I am very headstrong and stand up for what is right.


“Craig is the type of coach I want to play for. He doesn’t sugar coat anything but he knows how to push and make you better. That’s why I want to play at Kentucky.”