Cy-Fair, Texas (July 31, 2015)
Volleyball star plays her way from the court at Cy Woods High School to a professional Swiss team
Written by Lorrie Crow Kimble
Desiree Elliott constantly wanted to be around her mom when she was younger. But the shy, budding athlete started playing volleyball at the Cypress YMCA at age 9 and fell in love with the sport. Now a 5’10” 22-year-old, she’s gained her independence as her journey led her to play professional volleyball for the Power Cats Team in Dundigen, Switzerland. But Elliott says she didn’t get there by herself. She reached her goal with the support of her family, friends, and others.
Early Wildcat Days
While playing at the Willowbrook Sports Complex, Elliott’s coach asked her to play competitively. “I was excited to do it, my parents supported it, and I’ve been playing volleyball ever since,” she says. Elliott credits former Hamilton Middle School principal and later, her Cy Woods High School principal, Sue McGown, along with Cy Woods’ Ify Ogwumike and Kelly Ellis as being strong influences in her life. “They directed me to a positive path during my middle school and high school years. Mrs. McGown made us understand that academics came first while sports trailed in its shadow,” she says. Her mother agrees, saying that McGown put Elliott on the right track to become a leader prepared for college. Her high school coach was also a major contributor to her growth. “Coach Ashley Ahlfinger is an amazing woman of God, and I thank God for putting he into my life,” Elliott shares. While she played middle blocker for the volleyball team, Elliott says Kelly Onheizer, Tami Combs, and Breanne Hause also helped her “grow not only as a player but as a young adult.”
Loving Tiger Pride
A faithful University of Texas fan, Elliott was set to attend college in Austin.“On my third college visit to LSU, I discovered the beauty of purple and gold. I fell in love with the LSU Tiger pride,” she says. In fact, LSU head volleyball coach Fran Flory had been following Elliott’s volleyball career since she was 14 years old. Elliott continued playing middle blocker at LSU, but during her senior year, she transitioned to other positions, including right side and some back row defense. Quick on her feet due to soccer and dance, Elliott says that plays designed around speed and her approaching the ball off of one foot seem to work best for her. Although Elliott has accumulated copious amounts of awards for her playing, she is most proud of becoming the 2010 All-Southeastern (SEC) Freshman of the Year at LSU. “Competing against college volleyball players in the SEC is very competitive, and they are all very talented. God has blessed me with a special talent, and I am grateful for the opportunities volleyball has opened for me,” she says.
Becoming a Power Cat
She visited Europe with the LSU Tigers to train against teams in Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy. “This unique experience broadened my interest in playing abroad,” says Elliott. After her senior season, she was offered a position on the Switzerland Power Cats team in Dudingen. Elliott admits the thought of living away from family was intimidating. However, she quickly adjusted and made new friends. Elliott emphasizes that an athlete’s overall character is paramount.
Giving Back to Others
A member of Second Baptist Church Cypress, Elliott gave back to her community by making frequent hospital visits and participating in events to help support children in the surrounding area. “I was also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes organization at LSU and attended Christian athlete camps with other athletes from the region,” she says, adding she would like to be involved in missionary work upon her return from Europe. “Being a good person and doing the right thing despite negative outside peer influence is a must,” Elliott says. “Being kind is very different from being good. Put yourself second and others first.” She continues to thank others for their support. “I am just a product of a loving God who has blessed me with such wonderful people.” CFM
LORRIE CROW KIMBLE played softball and basketball throughout her school years, but never made it to Switzerland.