Kate Demery is responsible for earning herself a college volleyball scholarship but she thanks her older sister, Beth Demery, for sparking an interest in the sport years ago.
Kate, a 2021 Toledo High School grad, recently signed to continue her volleyball career with Centralia College. Beth is a 2014 Toledo alumna and later played two years at Highline Community College.
It was Beth who first taught Kate the mechanics and nuances of the hard-hitting sport and, in turn, helped create what would later turn into a love of the game for her younger sister.
“I think it’s cool I’m able to follow in her footsteps,” Kate said.
Kate’s path to a scholarship wasn’t paved. She filled out Centralia College’s recruiting form on its website and was soon invited to two tryouts.
Unfortunately, she was still healing from a tendon injury in her wrist on her non-hitting arm she suffered during the last game of the 2021 season. Eventually, she lost contact with Trailblazers coach Susan Gordon and figured the opportunity of playing college volleyball had passed.
Two weeks ago, luckily, Gordon texted Demery asking her if she’d like to join the team. She accepted the offer and within a week she was joining the team at a volleyball camp in Napavine. It all moved quickly.
“I was kind of surprised because it seemed like I wasn’t putting in enough effort to be on the team, because I missed both of the tryouts, you know?” Demery said. “I felt like it was pretty cool she was still giving me a chance.”
Gordon hadn’t gone in blind. Demery had sent her 10 game-film videos from her senior season, where she helped Toledo earn a No. 5 seed at the district playoffs, eventually losing to undefeated powerhouse Kalama.
It was the culmination of seven years of work for the outside hitter. She first started playing in sixth grade, then joined a club team for the next three years. She was named a varsity starter her freshman year and looked poised for a dominant prep career until an injury derailed her journey.
Demery blew her knee out during summer league between her sophomore and junior years, and would miss her entire junior season as it took a full year of rehab.
“I was a little hesitant to even come back, you know?” Demery said. “It’s hard taking that much time off and I was kind of nervous to play again after what happened. But my coaches were really helpful and supportive so I was able to ease back into it.”
The most discouraging thing was, after a year off, Demery was obviously rusty. She didn’t start right back to where she had left off before her injury. She knew she was better than how she was playing, but it would take time to build her skill back to where it previously was.
“I just wasn’t able to play at my full potential yet,” Demery said. “I could feel that and it was frustrating.”
But she wasn’t one to just give up. Demery put in the work needed to revive her volleyball career and turned into one of Toledo’s top players her senior year, registering 74 kills, 47 digs and 43 aces while earning all-2B Central League third-team honors.
It was a rewarding finish to her high-school career, and now she’s preparing to carry that success over to the next level. Demery spent the past week helping a few Trailblazer teammates run a prep volleyball camp in eastern Washington.
Demery will be joining a few locals, including 2021 Adna graduate Maddie Kleemeyer. Also on the Blazers are Mossyrock alums Andee Nelson and Faith Mulligan, along with Onalaska grad Eryn Duryea, all of whom will be sophomores this upcoming season.
They will all look to help rejuvenate a Trailblazers team that went 1-10 overall and in league during the 2020-21 season. Team practices begin in August and Demery is looking forward to beginning the next chapter in her life and volleyball career.
“I don’t really have much down time but until then I’m going to try to get in as good of shape as I can,” Demery said.