PORT ORCHARD — Faith Smith always knew she wanted to play volleyball at the next level, but she never thought she’d move out of state to make that dream come true.
That is until she took a visit earlier this month to Southwestern College, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school located in Winfield, Kansas, about an hour from Wichita. By the time she returned to Port Orchard, she knew she was ready to commit to becoming a Moundbuilder.
But first, she had to come to terms with leaving behind her family in Washington state.
“It did grow on me,” Smith said. “At first, I had no idea I would be moving out of state, but now I’m really excited about it.”
Smith enjoyed her visit with the team and head coach Jake Conrad, who is in his first year at Southwestern College. She was able to attend a couple of practices and get to know the players on the team. It convinced her that she would be able to carve out her own home away from home.
“I know I’m going to miss my family, but I know I’m going to have a really good time,” Smith said.
Smith said she also enjoyed the homey feel of Southwestern’s small campus.
“The team chemistry was so much fun, practice was really fun and I really like the coach,” Smith said. “I sat in on a couple of classes and I like the teachers. It’s a small school so I really like the atmosphere of ‘everyone knows everyone.’”
Smith, a middle blocker standing 6 feet tall for the Wolves, is a club player for Washington Elite and has been a mainstay for South Kitsap for the past two seasons. She has had plenty of great frontcourt players to learn from, such as Andrea Harteloo, Natalie Miller, Anna Fall and Madison Margraaf over the past couple of seasons, which set her up well to be the team’s on-court leader in her senior season.
Through eight matches, Smith led South Kitsap in both kills and blocks, and had a .200 hitting percentage. She has also been tasked with guiding a young team that gives significant playing time to underclassmen as they make their way through the tough South Puget Sound League.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.