One is her enthusiasm. One is her skill.
On the volleyball court and at the high dive bar, Katie Isenbarger has actually lived the most effective of both globes atWestern Kentucky And she has actually been rather darn great in both.
Saturday, the 6-foot Isenbarger will certainly complete for the 2nd time in the NCAA track and field interior champions in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and seek her 2nd All-American honor in the high dive. Last springtime, she entered into the occasion seeded 15th and ended up fifth. (The leading 8 gain All-American condition.)
“I was very surprised and very pleased,” Isenbarger stated regarding in 2015’s efficiency. “I was just happy to be there, to be honest. Being one of the top 16 jumpers in the nation, I was just so excited to just be among all those girls.”
On her method to the 2023 interior champions, the item of Zionsville, Indiana, established the WKU document at 1.84 meters (approximately 6 feet, 1/4 inch) at Bellarmine and won the Conference United States title (1.80 ). She currently holds the leading 5 interior high leaps in WKU females’s background. She likewise holds the leading 4 outside marks, with the most effective being 5-11 1/2, consisting of splitting a 40-year-old document in the occasion as a fresher.
In the autumn, she finished up her superior volleyball job– the Hilltoppers won 132 suits and made 4 NCAA Tournament looks in her 5 periods– by gaining her 3rd second-team All- CUSA honor.
She balanced 1.61 eliminates per collection (striking.363) from her center placement and led the group and placed 2nd in the meeting in blocks (1.23 ), numbers that are much more remarkable considering she was playing together with All-American center and two-time C-USA player of the year Lauren Matthews.
Her two-sport fame is similar to Michigan’s Claire Kieffer-Wright, that, in 2016-17, led the Wolverines volleyball group in obstructs and later on won the Big Ten high dive title.
“She became a terrific blocker for a lot of the same physical characteristics that made her a really good high jumper,” WKU train Travis Hudson stated. “She’s a really ‘springy’ kid. She’s great laterally. She never gives up on a play. She’s just flying around.”
Hilltoppers track and field supervisor Brent Chumbley admire the method Isenbarger has actually succeeded in 2 Division I sporting activities.
“We’ve had some dual-sport athletes in my coaching career, but, honestly, none that have been at the level Katie is,” stated Chumbley, that has actually been mentoring track and field for almost 25 years. “She is a starter on a fantastic volleyball team and an All-American high jumper, so that doesn’t come around very often.”
Isenbarger stated her affordable touch comes normally. Her daddy, Phil, was a elderly co-captain on Indiana’s 1981 NCAA champion basketball group, notoriously fronted byIsiah Thomas Her mom, Jenny, is a marathon jogger, and she has 2 older siblings, Matt and Jack, the last a expert basketball player in Australia.
She stated she attempted practically every sporting activity she might while maturing, however by high institution she had actually chosen 3: volleyball, basketballand track and field By her elderly year, she had actually gone down basketball to concentrate on volleyball and high dive.
But which to do in university?
“I knew I always wanted to do volleyball (in college),” she stated. “Even in intermediate school that was constantly type of the strategy in the rear of my head. While I was in high institution, I type of understood I’m in fact much better as a high jumper. So volleyball is even more of my enthusiasm and track and high dive is extra simply something that I’m talented with.
“Kind of toward junior, senior year, whenever the recruiting process for volleyball was starting – because I knew that’s what I wanted to do – I was asking colleges would (they) be open to letting me high jump for track.”
Hudson stated he was not just open up to it. He motivated it, also visiting her complete in the Indiana high institution track and field champions two times.
But he had a pleasant care for Chumbley and his personnel. Calling Isenbarger a “very social kid,” he stated he thinks that is just one of the primary facets of volleyball that attracted herin Isenbarger acknowledged, claiming she enjoys the group facet of volleyball.
Track and field, on the other hand, can be separating, with professional athletes exercising in their little occasion cocoons as opposed to as a device. At WKU, for instance, there are just 2 various other females’s high jumpers.
“I had a conversation with the track coaches and said, ‘Look, if you want this to be something that she does for a pretty good stretch of time going forward, my advice to you would be to keep it light, because if it becomes too much of a burden and you make her choose, I think she’ll choose volleyball,’ ” Hudson stated. “It simply feeds right into her character a lot far better.
“The freedom to do it in the manner that she has done it has really worked nicely in terms of her handling it all.”
The results do not leave much area for disagreement. Isenbarger has actually dealt with both with aplomb, and her efficiency in the high dive may stick out even more as a result of the restricted time she has actually taken into it.
Because of the pandemic, she basically shed 2 periods of high dive competitors: one when the 2020 outside period was terminated and however in 2021 when volleyball was pressed to the springtime.
Even in “normal” years, Isenbarger was obtaining restricted collaborate with the track and field group. Spring volleyball exercises typically left her only a day to service the high dive.
Still, though high dive is an uber-technical occasion, numerous of the exact same auto mechanics relate to it and volleyball.
“There was a lot of overlay in terms of what she would do in the weight room training wise,” Hudson stated. “Volleyball is a jumping sport. She’s really good off one foot in volleyball, and that translates into the mechanics of jumping a little bit over a high jump bar.”
Both trainers concur, nevertheless, that greater than anything physical, what collectionsIsenbarger in addition to several professional athletes is her propensity for appearing unsusceptible stress.
“I think Katie’s biggest advantage is she has a very short memory,” Chumbley stated. “If she has a negative dive, it does not impact her whatsoever. If she has a negative method, it does not impact her whatsoever. She has self-confidence in the truth that, yes, I can leap, so a negative dive does not matter.
“She just goes out there every day with an amazing attitude. She’s just one of those athletes that coaches dream of getting.”
Added Hudson: “She’s not a child that really feels the weight of anything on her shoulders. She’s a extremely carefree child, so it never ever really felt frustrating to her. She never ever really felt not really prepared. She’s simply a child that presents there and allows it fly and sees what occurs.
“With the relative small amount of time she invests in track, you would think that would be an overwhelming pressure for her that she’s not prepared. But she just doesn’t feel those pressures.”
And that has actually aided her to do her finest at one of the most crucial times.
Hudson stated he has actually revealed her the data from her regular-season suits and postseason (meeting competition, NCAA) suits. Without exemption, he stated, her percents are far better in the postseason.
In 2022, for instance, she struck.363 throughout the normal period. She surpassed that in 2 of 3 C-USA Tournament suits and in among the Hilltoppers’ 2 NCAA Tournament suits.
Exhibit B, certainly, is climbing up 10 areas from her pre-event seeding to gain a platform surface at the 2022 NCAA interior high dive.
“It is so interesting,” she stated. “Travis has pulled out the stats before and said, ‘Look at your conference tournament stats and look at your NCAA stats compared to your season stats.’ And it’s every single year. I guess it’s just the adrenaline of championship time. I just thrive on it.”
Said Hudson: “I in fact returned and looked it up, and throughout her four-year job, her numbers raised significantly when competition time hit. She struck virtually 100 factors greater career-wise in meeting and NCAA Tournament than she did in the normal period, and I assume it’s simply her capability to manage stress.
“ … She just elevated and played at a higher level. And I think that’s every coach’s dream: a kid that’s going to elevate their game at the most important times.”
Isenbarger will certainly attempt to do it once more this weekend break as she goes into the NCAA high dive as theNo 14 seed.
This springtime, she has actually had the ability to dedicate even more time to the high dive since she has actually tired her volleyball qualification. She has outside period in advance of her also, and, if she desired, she would certainly have an added year of track and field qualification after taking a redshirt throughout the pandemic stretch.
But Isenbarger stated she most likely is performed with affordable sports after outside period. She currently has actually finished her basic level in sporting activity administration and occasion preparation and is almost do with her master’s in sporting activities management.
Her desire task, she stated, would certainly be benefiting a expert sporting activities group in some ability, probably in occasion preparation.
“I think I’m ready to dive into the ‘grass’ leagues and just playing (volleyball) for fun,” she stated. “I’m, undoubtedly, open up to (playing professional) if something would certainly show up. Same with track and field due to the fact that there’s expert methods for that also.
“But what’s most likely to happen is I’ll retire at the end of my track season here, and I’ll be officially done.”
So with all she has done, what is delegated achieve?
Isenbarger isn’t establishing any kind of soaring objectives, besides to clear 6-1 (1.86 meters), which she stated she attained in high institution however hasn’t yet gotten to in university. Her finest has actually been 1.85, which, transformed from statistics, is approximately a quarter of an inch except her magic number.
She stated she wants to gain All-American condition once more, and, provided the method she takes care of to appear in the greatest minutes, it most likely isn’t a good idea to wager versus her.
Chumbley stated he would not place it past her to win the NCAA title.
“Anything can happen on any day, and that’s the great part about Katie is she doesn’t get nervous. The big stage doesn’t impact her at all,” he stated. “So it would not amaze me if she did (win), however, at the exact same time, genuinely, based upon the jumpers in the nation, one more top-five would certainly be a truly great weekend break for us.
“She’s constant. She leaps well all year. And a great deal of jumpers, they’ll have that a person huge dive throughout the year and after that they’ll stress. … She simply heads out and implements every single time.
“She’s a 4.0 student. She’s working on her master’s degree. Everybody loves to be around Katie. She’s got a constant smile on her face. She’s very active in Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She’s pretty much the gold standard in what you want in a student-athlete.”
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