This year UC Irvine’s Women’s Volleyball team will say goodbye to senior outside hitter Kelly Wing. Although she is known for her career in volleyball, Wing actually began as a curious athlete.
Wing has been a successful athlete all her life and cites soccer as her first major interest. After playing soccer for almost 10 years, a hip injury in the eighth grade put her on the bench. Being out of the game was tough for her but according to Wing, ‘Once you start playing competitive sports you can’t stop.’ Wing followed up on a neighbor’s suggestion to play volleyball.
‘My friend [who] lived down the street from me told me to try out [for volleyball] and I did,’ Wing said. ‘I ended up liking it a lot.’
Wing made her volleyball debut as a sophomore on her high school volleyball team, beginning her long career with little experience on the court.
Wing accepted UCI’s recruitment after a successful volleyball career at Murrieta Valley High School because she was comfortable in Southern California and wanted to stay close to home.
Wing is happy to work with her high school teammate from home, senior middle blocker Dana Kurzbard. ‘I think it’s cool that Dana and I continue playing in college,’ Wing said.
Contrary to what some might think about playing the same sport for so long, Wing commented, ‘I still enjoy it. It’s a plus to play for your school.’
Though she is getting ready to leave UCI, along with the team’s three other seniors, Wing feels fortunate to have many wonderful memories.
She also has said that the team’s work with Head Coach Charlie Brande ‘has taught me a lot.’ All of the playtime helped her realize that life moves at a ‘faster pace when you get to college and you learn what things work and what things don’t.’
Volleyball has taken her from the classroom in Irvine to the beaches of Hawaii.
Sophomore teammate Trisha White said ‘[Wing] is a great leader, an inspiration’ to the volleyball team.
Indeed, the leadership she has shown the team and taken to every competition has earned her, among other awards, UCI’s first Women’s Volleyball All-American in 2003.
‘I wasn’t expecting it,’ Wing said. ‘It’s an honor for me, but I couldn’t have done it without my team.’
You might be wondering why you haven’t bumped into such an accomplished athlete at the ARC. Wing admits that although she thinks the ARC is a great place, she tries ‘to stay away from the ARC as much as possible because when you work out here [Crawford Hall] all the time, you don’t want to go to another gym.’
Wing reflected on the team’s performance by commenting, ‘The past four years, we’ve just been building up. It’s cool to see how much we’ve all grown.’
Wing plans to continue playing volleyball ‘because when I get old I won’t be able to. I’m still thinking about maybe playing overseas professionally. I’d live in Europe somewhere, just to get a different experience.’
The sport will help her accomplish one of her other goals: traveling. ‘I just want to travel, go to another country, see what it’s like,’ Wing said. But for now, Wing is interested in attending graduate school and becoming a family therapist after her volleyball career.
Whatever her aspiriations may be, one thing is for sure: Wing is not narrowing down her choices in life.