PANTHER OF THE WEEK: Escamilla overcomes injuries to succeed
By Scott Akanewich
Kinsee Escamilla knows what it’s like to wait.
She waited to become a high-school freshman and take the court as a Liberty Hill volleyball player.
But, a broken foot on the eve of the season kept her on the sidelines for most of the campaign.
So, she waited some more, but then suffered an ankle injury right at the beginning of her sophomore season.
Now, as she prepares for her junior year, the 5-foot-11 outside hitter is hoping to proudly wear the Purple and Gold for a full season for the first time in her prep career.
If anything, the trials and tribulations she endured the past two seasons has taught her to fully appreciate the moment and take nothing for granted, she said.
“I realize now I have to work hard every chance I get and prove I belong,” said Escamilla. “Also, I feel like now I enjoy it more.”
Escamilla’s injuries certainly didn’t kill her, but they made her stronger, she said.
“It was very heartbreaking at the time because I worked so hard for it, especially over the summer,” said Escamilla. “I’ve been playing volleyball since I was five or six.”
According to head Coach Gretchen Peterson, Escamilla was a rising star at the time of her initial injury, making the varsity squad as only a freshman two years ago.
“Kinsee had really good court sense and could keep up with the speed of the game,” said Peterson. “She never played like a freshman.”
So, as the Lady Panthers practiced at a recent session at the Purple Palace, Escamilla was thrilled to finally be able to embark on her maiden voyage of full-time high school competition, even though now she has to take cautionary measures to keep history from repeating itself.
“I had to retrain how I walk and jump,” she said. “Before I used to do both on the outside of my feet, but now I have to always land on the inside.”
She also utilizes physical therapy techniques known as “cupping” and “scraping,” which are methods of soft tissue mobilization.
While she was out injured, Escamilla remained a critical part of the team – to her credit, said Peterson.
“She has always been a great teammate,” she said. “Kinsee’s a great leader and is always super positive and her teammates recognize that about her.”
Escamilla couldn’t simply sit idle while her teammates battled on without her, she said.
“I really tried to get involved even though I couldn’t play,” said Escamilla. “Even as a freshman, my teammates were very inviting.”
After all, it’s part of nature, she said.
“I feel like I’m very selfless and like to make other people happy,” said Escamilla. “All I wanted was to still be part of the team.”
On her way to high school, Escamilla played other sports including basketball, but decided to give up roundball once she reached the prep level.
“I really didn’t have time for it anymore with all the club volleyball I was playing,” she said.
However, in the spring, Escamilla is on the track team, specializing in the throwing events, which helps her when she is back in the gym, she said.
“I grew up playing baseball and always liked to throw things,” said Escamilla. “So, I decided to do the shot put because I knew it would help me with my strength, which allows me to hit the ball harder. Also, my parents and coach encouraged me to throw because of my long arms.”
So, now that’s she’s back at full strength, Escamilla is only looking forward to one thing for the upcoming season, she said.
“I want our team to do the best we can,” said Escamilla. “For me, that would be a perfect season.”
As for the rough waters she’s already managed to successfully navigate, Escamilla is philosophical about it all.
“Everything that has happened has given me a new perspective,” she said. “But, I know it was all part of God’s plan and has made me grow as a person.”