It seems that a lot of the time we view leaders as the loud and proud athlete on the team. However for the Sutter volleyball program, this isn’t necessarily the case. With the season just two weeks in, Sutter’s Maddie Kunkle has proven that she can lead by example on and off the court.
“She’s all business and I think for other girls to look at her and see the success she’s had is a really good thing for this team,” Sutter head coach Ann Reynolds said. “Her overall play is very consistent which makes her a coach’s dream,” she added.
For Kunkle, volleyball started at the early age of eight-years-old. She remembers playing it with her friends in her spare time before deciding to sign up to play competitively.
“Being able to work together as a team is something I really appreciate about this sport. It’s not always who has better skill, if you have a team that has great chemistry it’s usually a diffrence-maker,” Kunkle said.
This season, the Husky senior is off to a fast start. After being named team MVP by Reynolds last season, Kunkle has picked back up where she left off. During Wednesday’s match against Marysville, Kunkle dished out an impressive 15 assists, but also added eight kills – a part of her game that she’s been working hard to improve.
“This season I’ve been so proud of how she’s grown into being an all-around player. We’ve moved her into more of a hitting role from the outside position and she’s taken the task and ran with it,” coach Reynolds said.
Kunkle credits a lot of her growth as a player with the guidance she’s received in years past.
“Hannah Crother (a senior on last year’s team) really helped show me the way. We got really close and I admired the way she approached things everyday,” Kunkle said.
As for other inspirations, Kunkle also appreciates her head coach, saying that Reynolds believes in her no matter the situation.
“If you make a bad play, she’s always right there to lift you up and help you get refocused. I think that’s a really important quality to have as a coach,” Kunkle added.
Looking back on Kunkle’s career at Sutter to this point, Reynolds can’t think of just one moment that sticks out. But, she does love to try and lighten up the mood with the all business Kunkle.
“She will usually have a serious face, whether it’s practice or warm-ups it doesn’t matter. So making her smile is always a win in our minds and the team loves it,” Reynolds said.
Kunkle is keeping her options open as far as collegiate play right now, though she is considering continuing her career at Multnomah University in Oregon.