By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– There were more excitement than nerves for Kaelyn Worst when she got ready for her Signing Day at Cascade High School.
Worst asked her mom the night before ‘what do I wear?’ for Wednesday afternoon’s signing event to be part of the Storm Volleyball team. There were also some nerves when she was initialing some pages beforehand at one of the tables in the Cascade library before walking to the table draped in the black and gold ‘Cascade High School, Home of the Cougars’-sign.
“I guess I wasn’t really nervous, but I was really more excited to finally get to sign and know for sure that I’m going to Chemeketa,” said Worst. “That’s the point where it’s real and that’s the decision your making and it opens up a whole new gate for what you’re going to do for the rest of your life and it’s just one-step into the future playing volleyball there and getting to go to school there for my future.
“My coaches have just done such amazing things for me and I am beyond grateful and so thankful for them to be in my life to get me to where I am at and where I am going to go.”
Having lived in Cascade school district, it wasn’t until she was in the seventh-grade when she transferred into the school district from Salem Academy to Cascade Jr. High as she continued her volleyball career as a member of the Cascade Volleyball family.
During her High School career, she was a part of a Cougar squad that won four Oregon West Conference-titles and by her senior year, her third year on Varsity, led the Cascade team with 187 kills and 39 blocks while playing all over the court during her final season for the Lady Cougars as they finished 12-8 on the season.
“I didn’t originally go to Cascade, so I didn’t grow up in the school district. I came to Cascade in Junior High and ever since then it’s been amazing and all the people I’ve met and all the friends I’ve made,” describes Worst on the transition into the school district and life at Cascade.
“All the connections I’ve made with people and memories, it’s been so much fun and I wouldn’t want to have gone anywhere else other than here.”
Worst was named to the first-team All-Oregon West Conference during her senior season, one of three Cougars to do so along with teammates Tori Lewis (also Co-Player of the Year) and Jolinn Daviscourt.
“Well Kaelyn has always been a hard-worker and she always had a goal planned to play in college,” said Cascade Volleyball Head Coach Cristina Williams. “She didn’t know what level of college, but she always wanted to play in college and she’s had the eye on the goal. She worked hard everyday and she managed to get her goal.
“I think she’s going to do amazing at the next level and I think having other girls that have the same goal as her is going to be helpful for her and improve her skills at the next level. So I’m extremely proud of her, I’m really happy she chose Chemeketa because it’s part of our family too so I get to watch her grow and watch her play and be a part of the Storm family.”
Cascade Athletic Director Heidi Hermansen, the Lady Cougars Head Volleyball Coach Cristina Williams, and Chemeketa Community College Head Volleyball Coach Traci Stephenson spoke and she signed her name on the dotted line, the process of her choosing the Storm was an interesting one.
Having worked out with Clackamas Community College, Mt. Hood Community College and Linn-Benton Community College seeing how she fit in their systems, was fun for her to experience as she got an insight for what is to come next year.
“It was really fun, I went to a few practices with Mt. Hood, Clackamas and Linn-Benton and they were all definitely the next level. It’s a lot different than High School and it’s really fun to go to those because you get to see how their programs run, how they coach, the kind of drills they run.
“You really get a feel for the team dynamic and all the girls on the team, so that’s always a really good experience and it really helped me in my decision.”
The Storm started the volleyball season 6-4 this past season as they dropped a tough 3-2 match to Linn-Benton (22-25, 26-24, 25-20, 22-25, 13-15) on September 15 at home to start the NWAC South Region League play.
That would be Chemeketa’s last loss of the season as their next game, a 3-1 win over NWAC South Region opponent in Lane (20-25, 25- 16, 25-14, 25-17), sparked a 24-game winning streak that led them to the NWAC Championship over Bellevue (38-14) in five-sets to close out the season on Novemeber 19. Stephenson also won Coach of the Year for the 30-4 Storm.
Worst was familiar with Stephenson through her eighth-grade sister Brooklyn and her club team while the eldest Worst played for Stephenson’s assistant during club volleyball, so the exposure to the Chemeketa system through that helped guide her to her decision to sign with the Storm.
“One thing I can definitely pinpoint out is as soon as a play is done, she is critiquing people and always giving her best interest in everyone, ‘oh you need to do this, you do this. Oh your fine’, she’s super encouraging and she’s always smiling,” Worst on her future coach. “She makes everything fun, at least for my sister and my sister loves her so much so that was really nice to know her at that level in making my decision to go to Chemeketa.
Now that she has signed, she’s just hoping to help the Storm whenever she can during her time playing for them.
“I’ve watched Chemeketa play a couple of times and they are phenomenal,” said Worst. “All of their girls are in tip-top shape and they’re phenomenal athletes and I can’t wait to be a part of that and better myself and help out the team in whatever ways I can. So I’m really excited to be apart of that.”
As Kaelyn Worst prepares for college volleyball and her senior year of Track and Field at Cascade in javelin, something she’s going to do independently in college, she left a lasting memory for her other younger sister in Madelyn Worst who will be entering her junior year next year as she tries to leave the same lasting message to their youngest sister in Brooklyn who will be a freshman next year.
“It was really awesome and I look up to her and she’s just an amazing Volleyball player,” said Maddy Worst on her older sister. “Kaelyn just taught me respect of the game and just learning different morals and stuff, so I just want to help Brooklyn the same way too.”
Father Ron Worst, who was an assistant under Williams this season on Varsity, got to spend some quality times with his two older daughters and eventually his youngest next year when she enters the High School ranks, talked about spending time with his oldest one last time before she graduates on the court of play.
“That was a lot of fun because I got to see it from another perspective,” said Ron Worst on coaching his two daughters.”To actually be in the huddles, during games, during intense games and to see them rise up in challenging games and have fun. So I got to see it from a new perspective being a coach on her team.”
The hard work and sacrifice that Kaelyn Worst has gotten the senior to this point and no doubt she’ll continue that hard work onto the Junior College-level and beyond. Nonetheless all the blood, sweat and tears, all the memories and all the team-group hugs with brother Tj post-games was more than worth the reward she received as she continues her athletic career next season.