Kenzie Filer is exactly what Rick Reynolds looks for in his players; a standout both on the court and in the classroom.
Reynolds, the first year head coach for the Idaho State volleyball team, inherited the 6’4” middle blocker, a talented athlete who has also received academic recognition.
Filer was named to the Big Sky All-Academic team after last season for her work in the classroom, along with earning First Team All-Big Sky for a strong junior campaign on the court.
“To be recognized like that is a big deal to me,” Filer said. “It shows that hard work pays off.”
A physical education major with a sport management emphasis, Filer hopes to continue playing volleyball professionally after graduation. For her, playing volleyball at ISU has meant everything.
“To play volleyball here is a big deal to me,” Filer explained. “I’ve been here for four years, so it’s like a second family to me.”
A big reason why Filer chose ISU was to rejoin a high school teammate and good friend, Lori Mendenhall-Lee. In addition to rejoining Mendenhall-Lee, Filer was offered a full-ride and an opportunity to visit the campus.
Four years later, it appears she made the correct choice.
“I really like the family atmosphere, not just with the team but with the community,” Filer said. “The professors are so nice and they understand that you’re an athlete and will have to miss class.”
Both Filer and Mendenhall-Lee attended Brighton High School in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“I’m from a big city, so being in a small town is a lot different,” Filer said. “People recognize you. The highways here are only two lanes, whereas in Salt Lake there are four or five lanes. The speed limit is different too. I had to get used to the one ways in town.”
Filer realized she wanted to play volleyball at the next level early.
“When I first started playing I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life if I could,” she explained. “It was something that I always knew I wanted to do.”
Growing up in Salt Lake City meant that Filer could attend University of Utah volleyball matches. There, she had many role models to choose from.
Filer built a relationship with Emillie Toone, a former 6’7” middle blocker for the University of Utah. Filer knew she wanted to play at the next level, and her friendship with Toone showed her how to get there.
“To be friends with an athlete was a great experience,” she said. “Especially during volleyball season.”
Although Filer knew it wouldn’t be easy, she has embraced the life of being a student-athlete.
“I just try and work hard every day and it’s nice to see that pay off,” Filer said. “It’s hard work to be a good student and a good athlete.”
In order to be a good student-athlete, Filer had to learn how to manage her time.
“As much as I want to watch Netflix all day, I can’t. I have to do homework and go to practice. There are long nights, but it is worth it in the end.”
Free time is a rare occurrence in the lives of student-athletes.
“In the free time that I do have, I watch Netflix,” Filer said.
Although Filer has watched a multitude of shows on Netflix, her favorite is One Tree Hill.
“I’m watching it for the third time,” Filer said. “I like the storyline.”
If Netflix existed when Filer was a child, all the popular Disney channel shows would be on her home screen. Even though her favorite show was SpongeBob, the rest of the Disney Channel classics stole Filer’s childhood.
“Sister, Sister, That’s so Raven, Kim Possible, I watched all of those,” she said. “Now they have different shows on the Disney Channel and we always talk about how we miss watching those shows.”
Although Filer hopes to continue her volleyball career after college, her ISU career is almost complete, with the conference tournament set to take place this weekend at Northern Arizona.
After hosting the conference tournament last season, ISU heads to Flagstaff looking to come out as winners in what is a wide-open field where any team could rise to the top.
The aspects of ISU Volleyball that Filer will miss most are playing matches at Reed Gym and going through the ups and downs of the volleyball season.
“I’m going to miss the team,” Filer said. “I have made so many good friends.”
ISU volleyball will miss her plenty as well.
The senior has been a staple in the starting six for the last three years, taking home honors such as the Big Sky Conference Tournament MVP in 2013 and All-Conference honors the last two seasons, with another expected to come for her performance this year.
She has also helped stabilize the middle, consistently in the top two or three for the Bengals in kills and blocks.
There is still plenty of work to do in the 2015 season, as the team looks to win the conference tournament and advance to NCAA tournament action for the first time since a memorable 2013 campaign.
As Filer rounds out her final season at ISU, she has lived her dream of becoming a student-athlete. It was not easy, but for her, it was well worth it.