By Greg Bates
Name: Kayla DeBruin
Parents: Rachelle and Frank DeBruin
Activity: Volleyball and track and field
Nicknames: Her volleyball defensive teammates call each other “Bros.” Also, her track relay coach Mr. Heraly ends each conversation with Kayla by saying “State champ.”
Kayla is an accomplished volleyball player and runner in track. She was the starting libero for four years on the volleyball team. Kayla was member of the West De Pere track and field team last season that won a team state title. She also won an individual state title as a part of the 4×100-meter relay team. She doesn’t feel like she’d be as successful without the support of her family. “Both of my parents have influenced me to be the type of player I am,” she said.
How did the volleyball season go for you this year?
“This season was super fun. Our team was very young, but we pushed through and accomplished a lot.”
Did you feel a lot on your shoulders as a senior to be a leader for these young athletes?
“For sure. I know the team looks up to me a lot, so that’s something that I take to heart, because I know they can come to me whenever they need me. Yeah, there’s definitely a lot of pressure, but I don’t let that get to me.”
You hit 1,000 digs for your career. How special was that?
“It was on senior night, so that was a really special night for me. There was a lot of emotion, I’ll say. It was definitely something that I was working hard for. During the beginning of the season, I didn’t know if I would be able to do it, because COVID year kind of shut that down a little bit, so we only had four games my sophomore year. I was a little worried I wouldn’t be able to get it, but with all my hard work I pushed through and I was able to accomplish it.”
You started in volleyball as a freshman. How did that help you out as an athlete?
“It definitely gave me the experience when I was younger. I got to play with a lot of really good upperclassmen and that kind of just helped me as the years grow on become a leader of the team and help out the young players the same way the seniors did for me.”
As a libero, you’re not the one getting the spotlight to get the big kill or point. What’s that like?
“I’m always cheering on my teammates. I think even though I might not get all the recognition, I definitely play a huge role on the team. I definitely hype up my teammates when they get a kill. You can ask any one of my teammates that I will go crazy if they get a kill.”
You were part of the Phantoms’ 4×100-meter relay team that won the state championship. What did it feel like to win a state title?
“It was a feeling like no other. We went down there, we knew we could accomplish something, but our coach always told us, ‘Stay humble. Take it one race at a time.’ We knew we did that and it was a feeling like no other.”
You were the first leg of the relay, so you’re setting the tone. Did you feel good after you handed the baton off to your teammate?
“When you start off you start a little staggered, so I was just hoping to close the gap a little bit for my teammates. We had fast girls all the way around, so I knew that if I could push and close the gap a little bit, I knew that my teammates would push through.”
You see your teammate cross the finish line. Where were you and what was that like?
“It’s funny that you ask this, because I was running over from the first leg to where the finish line was. Immediately, when I saw it, I thought we took third on how close it was. Then all of a sudden, we looked at the scoreboard and, oh my gosh, I started jumping all over the place, screaming, yelling, hugging my teammates. It was, oh my gosh, something I’ll never forget.”
Is that your coolest athletic achievement thus far?
“For sure. That and obtaining my 1,000 digs on senior night. Those are both memories I’ll never forget.”
I know you want to get back to state again this season in the 4×100. What is reasonable expectations for your relay?
“Obviously, to do it all over again. I know it’s hard to get a state championship, but it’s even harder to get it twice in a row. I’m looking forward to it.”
What do you like to do away from athletics?
“We have a cottage up north and I love water skiing, actually.”
Does your family get to the lake a lot during the summer?
“Oh, yeah. We love it up there. We try to get there as much as we can, even with volleyball season it was a little hard. But I like to get up there as much as possible.”
What are your other interests?
“I love spending time with my friends. Some nights we just like going out and doing stuff, but also the nights where we just relax and hang out are fun, too.”
Are you planning on playing volleyball at the next level?
“I don’t think I’m going to play volleyball at the next level. I always thought I was, but going to a bigger school, I definitely want to stay active in it, like do something like intramurals.”
Do you know where you’re going to college yet?
“My top choice is UW-Madison at this point, but I’m still keeping my options open.”
Why Madison? Do they have what you want to go for with a major?
“I am going in undecided and I know Madison has so many opportunities that I can get involved in and kind of explore all the way around. My older brother, Andrew, actually goes to Madison, and we’ve been down there multiple times and he cannot tell me enough how much he loves it.”
If you could be one person for a day, who would it be?
“I would say Bill Gates. Be a billionaire for a day would definitely be an experience.”
What’s one word that describes you?
“Passionate. You can ask any one of my coaches or family, they say when I’m committed to something, I’ll work hard for it and do whatever it takes to get it done.”
What’s your favorite restaurant?
What do you like about school?
“At West De Pere, I cannot explain enough how amazing the teachers are. I have made connections with almost every teacher that I’ve had, and I’m a little nervous going to college, because I love the teachers that we have at West De Pere.”
What’s your favorite subject in school?
By Greg Bates