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North Jr. High School teen selected to train with USA Volleyball

Kenlee Barnard named among group of 21 eighth-graders invited across U.S.
North Jr. High School teen selected to train with USA Volleyball
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 11:32 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Around a month ago, Kenlee Barnard received an unexpected email, inviting the 13-year-old to attend the USA Volleyball National Team Development Program’s Spring Training Series.

“I got the email and was surprised,” Barnard said. “Didn’t really know what it meant at the time, I kept learning and was like, ‘Wow, this is really a big opportunity.’”

A 6-foot setter from North Jr. High School, Barnard is one of 21 eighth-graders in the country selected.

The training series gives junior athletes the opportunity to practice with and play against some of the best players in the United States, while being coached by USA Volleyball coaches.

“We just found out about a month ago that she was selected to be part of this training program where they scout and identify up and coming talent,” Brandon Barnard, Kenlee’s dad said. “I’d say about the last year, when my older daughter started talking about recruiting, Kenlee also kind of followed in and got more excited and passionate about what the future could be for her also.”

The 13-year-old was noticed by Team USA scouts while playing in a tournament with the Metro Volleyball Club in Evansville. Her coach and club director, Alicia Rasche, says Kenlee is deserving of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“She’s a player that you want to have on your team,” Rasche said. “She is a go-getter, she wants to learn every aspect of it. She’s now at the point where she’s looking across the court to see where they can score and that’s going to be beneficial as she goes through high school and even into college.”

Kenlee says she hopes the training program will help take her to the next level as she prepares to play for North High School and beyond.

“I would love to play Division I,” Kenlee said. “I love competing and I’m very competitive. I’m really excited and grateful that they picked me.”

“It’s not just while we’re in the gym, she’s at home outside hitting a ball practicing her skills,” Brandon said. “She’s really hands-on, not afraid to take charge or being thrown into anything, so I think that’s carried over into the volleyball court.”

The Barnards head to Chicago this weekend for the training series. In the fall, Kenlee will play for the North High School Huskies.

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