Most people would just be getting out of bed, but it was 9 a.m. when FAMU’s volleyball team was wrapping up its three-hour practice.
A hopeful player’s smile beamed as she finished her assigned exercises and cheerfully motivated her teammates to finish theirs.
Her name is Kalen Blathers, a sophomore, pre-cardiopulmonary major, and she’s bringing her contagious energy to the court for the second year. She explained what a perfect practice is in her eyes.
“When everyone is energized, talking — when everyone is loud and smiling on the court! We’re focused but we’re still having a good time and being productive,” Blathers said.
Blathers is technically a sophomore, but a senior by credits. Last year, Blathers had to make an adjustment to college after being the only freshman on the team.
But she said she’s looking forward to bringing her A-game and using her perky personality to get the team to work together better.
“We have a lot of new people on the team this year, so one of my goals for us as a team is to just find our groove and just be one as a team basically,” Blathers said.
Many players on the team are from various countries like Bulgaria, Dominican Republic and Turkey. Blathers said having international teammates has been exciting and educational at the same time.
“You definitely learn about their culture. But sometimes when we have practice or when we have to take road trips for games, they’ll teach us words from their language and it’s really cool,” she said.
Dominican Republic native Maria Garcia is also on the volleyball team and is close friends with Blathers.
“She’s really something,” Garcia joked. “But no, she’s a really good teammate, she’s always rooting for everybody and I feel great that I’ve met her. She’s a really good person and I appreciate her.”
Blathers takes the outside hitter position on the court and she explained what that position endures, starting with communication.
“You have to communicate with the setter,” she said. “It’s also talking with your back row players because your background players will usually tell you where to hit. It’s about knowing if you have a huge block in front of you or knowing how to hit off the hands.”
FAMU volleyball coach Haylie McCleney believes that Blathers has some serious potential to become an extraordinary player this year.
“She’s one of the hardest workers we have, but I think her being in the weight room — her energy is contagious and she’s got so much potential to keep doing great things,” McCleney said.
Her teammates make it clear that Blathers is a high-spirited and hardworking individual.
Karina Pressoir recalled how Blathers’ good energy brought the team home a win last season.
“She actually improved a lot from last year, you can see her self-confidence has grown and in this last tournament we played, she brought energy to the court and we ended up winning that set,” Pressoir said.
Blathers said that it’s no shame in her game because she still wants to become a better player for herself and continue to bring her liveliness to the court.
You can catch Blathers on the court alongside her team this Saturday at noon in the Lawson Center, when the Rattlers host Stony Brook University.