Former Star Player Now Teaches at Blue Valley Southwest
It started at the tender age of 7 for Caitlyn Donahue.
The road led to volleyball success at the high school, collegiate and professional levels, and now she is giving back to the community as a teacher/coach at Blue Valley Southwest High School.
“My dad, David, played the sport for most of his adult life, and I vividly remember tagging along with him to various volleyball open gyms and tournaments within the Kansas City area,” Caitlyn says. “Whenever my dad had a break between his matches, he would take me off to the side and teach me the basics.”
She started in club volleyball at the age of 8, and her dad was her coach.
“There were times when I wished he was not the one coaching me, but I can look back now and remember fondly the opportunities that club volleyball game gave us to spend time together,” she says.
Donahue played club volleyball through the age of 17 and played at Blue Valley West under coach Terry Flynn.
“Caitlyn was the type of athlete who could impact the outcome of the match,” Terry says. “She had an impressive vertical jump and could be counted on to put the ball down the court where and when you least expected it and when the team needed it the most.”
Caitlyn achieved a number of honors for her high school career, including three-time Class 6A player of the year, 2008 AVCA First Team Under Armour All-American, 2008 Kansas City Star All-Metro Volleyball Player of the Year and 2009 Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year. She was selected to the Kansas Volleyball Association Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Blue Valley West Hall of Fame in 2016.
She had a number of college scholarship offers but decided on Kansas State because of the approach of coach Suzie Fritz.
“I will never forget sitting in Suzie’s office as a junior in high school,” she says. “I was expecting Suzie to congratulate me on my recent accomplishments. Instead, she told me that I was a good volleyball player, but that she could make me better and that I would need to get better I wanted to play Big 12 volleyball.”
She graduated early from Blue Valley West in December 2008 to get ready for collegiate volleyball. She didn’t graduate from Kansas State until December 2014 because she signed with an agent to play professional volleyball before graduating.
“I played three pro seasons abroad and trained with the U.S. Women’s National Team,” she says.
She played in many countries around the world, but it was her experience with the U.S. Women’s National Volleyball Team that made the biggest impression on her.
“Having the opportunity to be a member of the U.S. Women’s National team was the highlight of my professional career,” she says. “Competing with some of the best players in the world day in and day out was nothing short of incredible.”
She did her student teaching at Blue Valley Southwest in 2013 and served as an assistant volleyball coach to Terry at Blue Valley West, following the professional season in Switzerland. She graduated from K-State with a degree in education with an emphais in English.
It was her teachers at Blue Valley Middle School and Blue Valley West that made her focus on a career in teaching.
“I was inspired by the teachers I had as a student,” she says. “They had a positive impact on me as a student and person.”
She is in her third year teaching English language arts at Blue Valley Southwest but is not coaching volleyball. She is an assistant coach for girls golf and girls soccer.
“I did not feel as passionate coaching volleyball as I did playing,” she says. “I do not plan on coaching volleyball at the high school or club level.”