Amateur Athlete: McKenzie Cushman

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As a sophomore playing at a new position, McKenzie Cushman was just looking for an opportunity to show her coach she was ready for varsity volleyball. She didn’t expect it to happen like it did.

“The first game of the season, our senior blew out her ACL,” said head coach Robert Jackson. “So McKenzie, as a sophomore, the first game of the season became our starting setter.”

“I was just like, ‘Oh no,'” said Cushman, “but I knew I had to step up and just become a leader.”

Not only did she take over the role as the team’s only setter on the court, she was named secnod team all-Skyline Conference. Even more impressive is the fact that it was only her second year playing the setter position.

“Over the course of my coaching career, I’ve learned that your best player should be your setter because everything runs through her,” said Jackson, “and she wasn’t too excited about that at first. She really believed she was a hitter.”

“You have to be really unselfish to move to the setting position and make the others look good,” said Cushman.

In addition to adjusting to her new position and starting on varsity as a sophomore, Cushman also experienced a sudden change in her diet after discovering an intolerance to gluten.

“It’s a big thing because nutrition is a huge thing when you’re exercising and being an athlete and so I had to cut down my food a lot because wheat’s in everything and so getting the nutrition was kind of hard at first,” said Cushman.

Yet, Cushman overcame all of thsoe obstacles and now has her Hidden Valley Mustangs in first place in the Skyline Conference. Individualy, her game has also reached a new level.

“She’s just blossomed into someone that I think is a college level setter now as a junior and has the skill set that we’ve just never had at that position,” said Jackson.

Which should set Cushman up just fine as she blossoms into an even better volleyball player.