Jackie Meyer has coached plenty of talented players during her seven seasons as head coach of North Thurston High School’s volleyball program. However, odds are none have been as versatile as junior standout Calyne Schmidt.
“I can put her in anywhere and she’d be successful,” Meyer said.
Setter, middle blocker, right side hitter, the 5-foot-11 Schmidt has proven in her three seasons with Rams she can slide into any role and be incredibly productive, if not, downright dominating.
She entered high school playing her preferred position of setter. Meyer could see immediately just how talented she was right away and decided to split Schmidt’s time on the floor between JV and varsity, using her both as a setter and on the right side.
The following season, there was no doubt which team she would be playing on full time, the answer was obviously varsity all the way, but it wouldn’t be as the team’s setter. The roster was already chalked with players who brought talent and experience to that role.
“She’s super athletic. So, she deserved a spot on varsity,” Meyer said. “It’s just she wasn’t going to play over the two senior setters we had during her sophomore season.”
Meyer didn’t have to look too far to find a void as the Rams did have a pressing need to be filled in 2018 even if it would be foreign to Schmidt.
“I asked her if she had ever played middle before,” Meyer said. “Her answer was no, but she’s the most versatile player on the team so we knew she could handle it. I want athletes who can be plugged in anywhere and that’s Calyne. She’s a lefty so you want to play her on the ride side and she’d prefer to set, but we needed a middle.”
Initially, it was a move Schmidt wasn’t too keen on making, but when Meyer informed her she would be getting six rotations at middle blocker and just three as a setter the move appeared far more favorable. If that wasn’t enough, a quick conversation with mom sealed the deal.
“I was a little upset I wasn’t going to be playing the position I wanted to be playing,” Schmidt said, “but my mom helped me realize it’s going to make me a more valuable player to my team.”
Schmidt has been just that since.
“She’s really embracing the role. It’s hard to play three positions over three years, but she’s so good,” Meyer said. “It’s super rare (for a player to be in so many different positions) because they play year-round and they’re in a spot and that becomes their spot. With her, it shows the maturity in her play. She knows she’s playing where the team needs her and that makes us a better team.”
Now, during her junior campaign, Schmidt is primarily back to playing setter, but also playing on the right side.
“I’m actually getting comfortable with every position I’m playing,” Schmidt said. “I just like doing whatever I can for the team. Wherever it’s going to make me a better player that’s where I want to be. I’m just having fun learning all of these experiences.”
Regardless of where she’s lined up, North Thurston has benefitted greatly from her play as they are in line to secure one of the 3A South Sound Conference’s five postseason berths into the 3A West Central/Southwest District 4 tournament.
“I told her when she has off nights, our team struggles,” Meyer said. “It’s a lot of pressure on her, but she needs to bring her A game every night. It’s a lot to learn, but she’s very coachable and a great player to have around. She has really owned the role on the court and is blossoming. It is amazing to see such a versatile player.”
The Rams close out the regular season at home against rival Timberline on November 5.
Although Meyer has no plans to shift her away from her current position next season, when asked where she’ll end up next year as a senior, Schmidt no longer has a preference.
“It’s cool having all these different options, but it doesn’t matter where I’m at now. The girls on this team make me have a great time anywhere I’m playing,” said Schmidt, who has played with fellow juniors Addison Robertson and Sam Mueller since they were in elementary school. “This team is one big family. This is one of the best teams chemistry-wise I have ever been on.”