NCA All-Star Kenzie May of Southwest Will Impress You
LINCOLN – During her senior season at Southwest High School in Bartley, 5-foot-9 Kenzie May racked up 460 kills, 18 solo blocks, 288 digs, and 31 ace serves in earning 2nd Team all Class D-1 honors – a pretty impressive feat.
May also played basketball, averaging five points and 3.5 rebounds a contest for Southwest and during the track season she was a state-meet qualifier for the high jump (where she finished third), the 400 and also the 1,600 relay and 3,200 relay – pretty impressive accomplishments.
May is wrapping up her high school career today at the Nebraska Coaches Association All-Star Match, scheduled for 7 p.m. at Lincoln North Star. The match will be televised on NET. Later this summer she will start school at Chadron State, where she will compete on scholarship in both track and volleyball – an impressive accomplishment.
“I was thinking that I maybe had a shot (at making the all-star team),” May said. “When we got the letter, it was actually my dad that saw it first. I honestly think he was more excited than I was. I just thought there was no way that they picked me. It was really exciting and I’m honored they thought highly of me.”
Overall, it’s easy to be impressed with May. Not only is she one of the state’s premier all-around athletes and volleyball players, but also she has a constant smile on her face, a magnetic and engaging personality and is the kind of person young athletes should look up to.
Secondary to all her athletic and personal achievements is the fact that she will be hard to miss when you watch the all-star match tonight. That’s because she will be wearing a blue prosthetic on her right arm. May was born without a right hand and forearm. It’s naturally the first thing you notice when you see May. But, just spend a few minutes with her and it quickly becomes the last thing you notice.
Just ask Chadron State volleyball coach Janel Baily. After watching film of May, Baily asked her to come to the school for a tryout so she could watch her in person so she could see if the Class D-1 standout’s ability was on par with higher-level players. The coach said it only took a few minutes of her being on the court to figure it out.
“That’s when it became apparent that I wanted her on the team,” Baily said of the tryout. “Obviously, she has some physical limitations, but who doesn’t have limitations?”
You can tell May has a love/hate relationship with her prosthetic. She loves the fact that it helps her play volleyball, but, she really hates having to wear it. She doesn’t use it for basketball, track or daily life – just volleyball.
That’s been the story her whole life. May said her parents use to make her wear a regular prosthetic to school as a child. She said the moment she got home, she took off her shoes and prosthetic and wouldn’t wear it again until it was time to go back to school.
Her parents finally gave up when she got to 4th grade and let her decide if she wanted to wear it or not.
However, once she got a few years older and became interested in playing volleyball, the coach and PE teacher at her school at that time had some bad news for her. He said if she was serious about playing volleyball, she had to wear the prosthetic to play.
“I was so mad that the coach said I needed to get one,” May said. “It took a little getting use to. I kind of learned as I went.”
Doctors at Shriner’s Hospital in Minneapolis helped her find the right prosthetic to use for volleyball and she hasn’t looked back since.
“She’s learned how to rise to adversity her whole life,” Baily said. “The best part of Kenzie’s personality is that she is a go-getter. She doesn’t want anyone taking it easy on her.”
“I know she’s only going to continue to get stronger and more explosive. I think the world is the limit for her.”
May said she also appreciated the way Baily recruited her.
“As far as my arm, she never pointed it out. She just looked at me based on what I can do, regardless if I had an arm or not,” she said.
During the past couple days of NCA All-Star practices and activities, May said she has been enjoying getting to know fellow volleyball players from across the state.
“At some point in practice, I do feel a little out of place. They are all amazing athletes. Just great athletes,” she said. “It has been awesome seeing all these people, but it’s been really different. I don’t usually play against people like that. It’s been really fun getting to know everyone.”
“It’s different because there’s this big ol’ block in front of me that I’m not used to.”
One thing May said she is used to is incredible community support from her hometown of Indianola and the surrounding towns that make up Southwest High School. She said her whole life, people have never done anything but encourage her and support her.
May said she knows most athletes feel that way, but with her seemingly typical spunky and fighter mentality, she was adamant about one thing.
“Everyone you talk to says that they have the best community support, but they’re all liars,” she said with a laugh. “Ours is the best. We have a really good following in our community, especially for volleyball. Without all the support of my family, friends and community I don’t think I would have done as well as I have.”