In being fortunate enough to observe local athletes over the past 21 years by either coaching or covering them, I can honestly tell you I’ve seen thousands of athletes come and go. This would also mean I’ve seen double the amount of parents. I only mention this because the athlete I’ll be profiling today I had no clue existed until after knowing her parents for three years. Chalk this up to me being unobservant if you want but it wasn’t until I was covering a College Park High School volleyball game that I noticed a sophomore named MacKenzie Nunes playing on Candy Collins (now Candy Collins Gibson) varsity team.
So, the next time I saw Mr. and Mrs. Nunes, I inquired and they indeed verified “Kenzie” is their daughter. Ok, I am mentioning this because? Well, call me easily amused or impressed but I just thought it was cool that a couple of parents with an elite athlete for a daughter would never mention anything about her to a guy who writes about athletes almost every day.
Impressive because…? C’mon, stay with me here. It means that although Kenzie is one heck of a volleyball player and as you’ll soon read about…a lacrosse player as well, she has had to earn her notoriety on her own without having the benefit of her parents doing an all too common public relations sales gig.
In getting to know Kenzie’s parents, it doesn’t surprise me that Kenzie is one of the most unassuming, unpretentious student-athletes I’ve had the pleasure of covering.
We know you’ll be equally impressed after you enjoy Kenzie’s Woodlands Monocle Profile of the Week:
WM: How long have you been playing volleyball and why did it win out over other sports?
Nunes: I’ve been playing volleyball since second grade when I started at the YMCA. I became interested in the sport because I had grown up in a gym since before I could walk. I’ve played on many club teams, but for me playing club volleyball is all about finding the right fit. Currently, I am playing at Texas Legacy. Growing up I played volleyball, lacrosse, soccer, dance, and softball. Volleyball hasn’t completely won out because I still currently play varsity lacrosse for The Woodlands High School.
WM: Describe the College Park volleyball team:
Nunes: The team is an amazing group of girls to get to be around all the time. This is the fifth year that many of us girls have been playing together. Coach Collins Gibson is also a big part of why the program is so great as she always supports us in any decision we make whether it is volleyball or academics.
WM: How do you like attending College Park High School?
Nunes: College Park High School is a great community of people to be around. With a smaller class size than The Woodlands High School, it is much easier to get to know your teachers and the students in your class. There is always something going on whether it is an academic event or athletics, allowing everyone to be a part of something. My personal favorite event is Spikefest, which is a grass 4 on 4 volleyball tournament, but I am also excited for the KickFest Tournament in September which raises money for teen suicide.
WM: Do you have any colleges in mind at the moment?
Nunes: I’m not really sure what colleges I’m interested in attending. I have unofficially visited Springfield College (MA) and Colby College (ME). Wherever I end up going to college I would really like to do a semester abroad. I know that I would want to hopefully play volleyball wherever I attend. I would like to get a degree in either sports management or speech pathology. I do know that I am looking for a small college in the Northeast because it is where I have spent many family vacations.
WM: How do you spend your time away from school and volleyball?
Nunes: Away from school and volleyball, I enjoy playing lacrosse, going out to eat with friends, and playing with my puppy, Laxy. Lacrosse has helped with volleyball by aiding my hand-eye coordination and conditioning. My coach, Danny Tosh and my teammates have been the main reason I have continued to play lacrosse throughout high school even though there are many scheduling conflicts.
WM: Who is your role model for volleyball?
Nunes: My role model for volleyball is Joanie Forge (Director of Pass-Set-Spike Volleyball Camp in New Hampshire/Gilford (NH) HS Coach) because we talk off and on about the challenges that come along with the sport. She is also a believer in playing multiple sports throughout high school because it leads to players becoming better all-around athletes. She is a winner of many state championships while coaching in New Hampshire. During the summer she always gets me in touch with different groups to play with.
WM: Describe how supportive your family is in everything you do in your life:
Nunes: My family is extremely supportive. No matter when my game is or when I have practice they are always willing to drive me and cheer on my team no matter what sport it is. Two years ago, my mother took me to the Denver Shootout to play lacrosse and then drove to Orlando so I could play in AAU volleyball two days later.
WM: If you were given a million dollars to give to the charity of your choice, which would it be?
Nunes: I would give the money to Lacrosse Volunteer Corp. It is an organization that allows student-athletes to volunteer in Jamaica and Uganda as coaches and leaders. It teaches the student-athletes about the power of play not only in developing countries but also in their own community.
WM: Three things people don’t know about you:
Nunes: I’ve been water skiing since I was four. I enjoy hiking. Most recently, I hiked Mt. Osceola (4340 ft- the highest peak in Waterville valley region) in New Hampshire. I’ve also been in 43 of the 50 states.
It’s no surprise Coach Collins-Gibson thinks highly of Kenzie,
“Kenzie is a great kid! She’s a fierce competitor and a great leader of our team! She works hard and puts the thought and effort behind getting better every day,” she said. “I think she’s going to have a great season leading this team.”
Another tidbit about the Nunes family is that her little brother, rising 8th grader Matthew Nunes is an elite athlete himself. This little gem is of the best lacrosse goalies for his age on the planet. His natural athletic ability to go along with his ridiculous above average sports I.Q. are the sole reasons. I promise you a transplanted Aboriginal Australian in Tasmania with whom had no knowledge of lacrosse could be successful coaching this guy. You’re wondering if Matthew has a big enough inflated head enabling him to be the first person to rise to the moon without a spaceship. Well, that’s not possible because his level-headed older sister keeps him grounded not allowing for any such self-aggrandizement.
After all, having the ability to water ski since the age of four has taught Kenzie to be humble through and through.
Comments to Doug Sarant at [email protected]