National Champ Avery Skinner talks volleyball, school and life

‘Kentucky strives to be elite in everything’

by Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

Avery Skinner, a senior Communications Sciences and Disorders major here in UK's College of Health Sciences, just helped her volleyball team win the school's first-ever national championship, which they accomplished when they defeated Texas in Omaha, Neb., last week.

While the past few days have been busy with interviews and appearances, Avery made time to sit down with us and talk about all of that, as well as what led her to CSD, and what's to come in her future.

Here’s 5 questions with … national champion volleyballer Avery Skinner:

What have these past few days been like — has it started to sink in yet?

Yeah, I think it's kind of finally starting to set in, it really has been surreal. Honestly, it's been just great coming back and being able to see all of our fans because we had a good amount able to come to Omaha, but obviously it wasn't the fanbase that we usually have. And so, it was really cool to come back and have that welcoming party and see BBN there. And then also just being able to talk to so many people that might not have watched in the past, but they watched our game and we talked about this, but views were the highest on ESPN2 that they've ever been. That was just amazing to see how the game of volleyball is growing. And I think that's really just been the coolest thing for me — just hearing about how many people were able to watch and how many more supporters we have now, because what happened.

What led you to UK and the CSD major?

I'm so happy with my decision. I think the biggest thing for me honestly, was just the coaching staff and it kind of gets repetitive, I think, but it's just so true how much of a family this program is. It's really not just about the volleyball. Everyone cares about you in school and as a person and the doors to our coaches’ offices are always open and they really mean it. I think that's really what helped us get so far. We all have gotten to know each other on a deeper level.

And CSD is Communication, Sciences and Disorders, and you can take two kind of tracks with that, either speech language pathology, or audiology. I've chosen speech language pathology, so that's what I'll be getting my graduate degree in. My cousin Kennedy was born deaf. And so just being able to watch her progress from being born deaf and non-verbal, and then getting cochlear implants, and then learning how to speak and being one of the top students in her English class. Now, it's just amazing to see that progression. And so that definitely is another inspiration and kind of fire that drives me to go further in this field.

You talk about your team as a family, and one of the things I hear a lot from students in CHS is how this college is also a family. Do you see similarities there?

I do. I love all of the CSD faculty members. They do so much for the students, and they really are there for office hours, extra office hours, advice on career, future careers, really everything. They care so much about us students. And I've seen that a lot. And then, even just with the students in my classes, I've gotten to know them well, and it's been different not seeing them in person, but it definitely is a family atmosphere. I really do love the faculty and the students so much.

Here in CHS, we were all rooting for you on this run. Were you aware of that out in Omaha, and what does the future look like for you?

I’m actually going to grad school, but unfortunately it will not be at Kentucky. I’m sad about it. I do really, again, love the volleyball program and the school, but I will be continuing, just not here.

Obviously, my phone has been blowing up. The few times I was able to kind of check and see — I saw on Facebook — I follow the UK CSD department and Dr. Richard Andreatta, he has posted so much and he's so great. I love him a lot. They were definitely posting and following and that's something that I wasn't expecting that. But it was really great to see everyone’s support, posting about it and wishing us good luck.

You and your team overcame a lot this season, with the pandemic and virtual learning. Do you take lessons like this from sports and use them in your regular life?

Something we talk a lot about is just that we can do hard things. I think this year was so difficult, for everyone. And I think getting through this, we can look back and know that, yes, there were so many challenges, and it wasn't always enjoyable, but we are better people from it, and we can do it. We can do hard things. And so I think knowing that there will be adversity in life, things will not go perfectly like you want them to go. But knowing that if you stay committed and you know that at the end, you'll learn something and you'll become a better person, then you can do it. And I think that's something I will carry with me forever.

BONUS QUESTION: I’m sure you hear this a lot. What do you tell people when they ask you why they should come to UK — either to play sports or for academics?

I think that Kentucky strives to be elite in everything that they do, whether it's athletics, academics, regular student life, they're aiming to be the best. And I think that if that's a goal that you have, you'll be supported here. And it's something that I definitely didn't necessarily know until I got here, but everyone here is so supportive, and they want you to succeed. And obviously it has to come from you as well. But I think the want to be elite is something that is super special about Kentucky.

See the full interview with Avery here: