BY CLAY BRYCE | Ball State Sports Link
Constant studying and the desire to help others thrive is the fuel that burns Kate Avila’s fire prior to a game.
For the fourth all-time leader in digs in Ball State history, sharing the ball comes naturally. In her first three seasons with the team, Avila has averaged over 500 digs per season. Nine matches in to the season, she now needs just 453 more to take the number one spot all time.
None of this would have been possible without her consistency and extensive scouting. Having a 3.978 grade-point average, Avila knows the importance of study.
Through her passion for the craft along with her desire to set teammates up, she has built an excellent formula for success. This is how Kate Avila gets dialed in.
Friday, Sept. 20, 2019:
As her alarm goes off, Kate Avila rises from her bed at 9 a.m. Volleyball treks at a constant pace in her mind as she heads to the kitchen to meet her roommates.
A close bond formed through volleyball, Avila rooms with teammates; Amber Seaman, Sydnee VanBeek, and Anna Jensen. Gameday calls for a filling breakfast for all of them.
“I really like eggs, I also like Kodiak Cakes and I’ll put peanut butter, banana, and some honey on them,” Avila said.
After breakfast, she begins to watch her scout film. Avila analyzes the other team to find the hitting patterns that she could exploit.
Avila will also evaluate her own past performances of where she felt at her peak.
“I even go back and watch the film of myself and watch the games where I feel like I was the most me. And that really helps me to remember what I can do.”
When Avila arrives at Worthen Arena, it is time for her pre-game meal. Carbs are provided to the team to fuel their fires. Avila makes sure she gets all that she needs before the game
“It’s ideal that you eat a big meal three hours before a game.”
Now it’s time for her to head to the locker room where she fixates her attention on the game, constantly thinking about areas to capitalize.
“I really start focusing on scout, because that is a huge part of the game, you have to really know what you’re doing going into the game.”
Before the team takes the court for warms-ups, their favorite song starts to blare. Everyone stands up as they all start singing and dancing.
“We generally have a little dance party where we can play music. And that’s when I like to kind of let loose, have fun, kind of take some jitters before the game.” Avila explained. “We like to play songs that get us pumped up that aren’t typical. Mariah Carey, All I Want For Christmas Is You, Cotton Eye Joe and a couple other random songs.”
Once the dance party has settled down, it is time to stretch out and get her body loose. She knows her body and is steadily trying to make sure she is game ready. With the repeated digs and passes, she has to make sure she is stretched.
“I’m big into stretching out my back because I carry a lot of tension in my shoulders.”
Before Avila heads out to the court, her and the rest of the team need a caffeine rush. She gets her coffee and the game begins to settle in.
Once her body is loose and ready to go, it’s time to head to the court.
Running through the drills is routine for Avila. While going through drills, she reminds herself of her best practices and games where she has felt most natural. In order to play at her best, she needs to be herself.
“I try to be myself every single game. I’m really big into consistency. I don’t want to be really great one day and then really bad another day. I just want to be me.”
Her teammates’ play then begins to flood her thoughts.
“Once I step out onto the floor, it’s how can I start focusing on other people. That in turn helps me play at my best. So that’s kind of my strategy when I go out on gameday.”
She will then go around the court giving a high-five to every teammate. She has to save Amber Seaman for last though. With her and Amber being together the past four years, they have developed their own handshake to do before every game.
“I always high-five (Seaman) last. No matter what, even if she comes up to me, I say no. I high-five everyone else on the team and then Amber last.” Avila said. “We are two players that are on the floor a lot. Knowing, hey, I have your back, you have my back, you know that we are going to go out and perform at our best.”
After every teammate has their high-five, Worthen Arena begins to settle down for the national anthem. During this time, Avila reaches deep into her mind to bring out her best.
“When it gets kind of quiet around the time of the national anthem, I can focus on my thoughts, focus on myself, and kind of just say, you know, help me to go out, help me to use my abilities, use these gifts that I have been given and just use them to the best of my abilities in this moment.”
She recollects all of the film she watched, thinks about doing anything she can for her team, and most importantly – remembers to just be herself. Kate Avila is dialed in.