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Eagles’ Patterson signs with Meredith

Katelyn Patterson went from being a volleyball beginner to a key leader on the court of a playoff match in just a few years.

After just five years with the sport, the Surry Central senior punched her ticket to the next level by signing her NCAA National Letter of Intent with Meredith College.

“I’m super excited,” Patterson said. “I’m kind of shocked; I never thought that I would be signing to go play volleyball somewhere.”

She didn’t mince words when describing her rocky start with the sport.

”It was a rough beginning, I guess. I had no idea what I was doing.”

Prior to picking up volleyball, Patterson cheered competitively, played basketball and was a member of the middle school golf team. Volleyball had peaked Patterson’s interest before, but she didn’t make the jump until eighth grade. She said she felt like she jumped head first into the deep end when she started, but it didn’t deter her from coming back.

“I just didn’t have much experience so it was weird coming in with all these older girls who knew what they were doing, and they all looked so good,” Patterson said. “I was just an amateur, but I just kind of went for it anyways. It was tough, but it didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the environment and the coaches. It was just a good supporting environment for me so it wasn’t hard to push through all the awkwardness of it.”

Whitney Joyner was with Katelyn all four years at Surry Central as a JV coach and assistant varsity coach. Joyner witnessed Patterson’s growth as both a player and a young woman.

“She made volleyball her sport,” Joyner said. “She loves it, and you can see it in her on the court. The easiest thing to spot out is which players actually love volleyball, and she’s one who just oozes it.”

Joyner added that Patterson’s success is well-deserved due to the amount of work she put in over the years.

“Katelyn took adversity and used it to push her,” Joyner said. “She practiced every day. She asked for drills that she could do at home; things she could have her parents throw at her. She took that and ran with it, got into Junior Olympics really hard, then she made national teams and she’s went all over.”

When Carrie Bruce stepped in as Golden Eagle head coach prior to the 2020-21 school year, she quickly took note of Patterson’s work ethic.

“Coming in her junior year, the COVID year, there was no doubt that the position she was in was the position she worked very hard for and that she had earned,” Bruce said. “I was super proud of her, and it’s astounding that a kid – as a junior – could step on the court and read defenses and offenses from the other team as well as she did.”

Patterson stepped into the all-important position of libero for Surry Central. In 135 sets as a varsity player, Patterson racked up 567 digs, 596 serve receptions and 70 service aces.

“Being a libero is extremely hard,” Bruce said. “I will argue all day to say it is just as hard as the setter position in the majority of instances, because who do I want the ball to go to first? I want my libero to take it. They’re the start of every play, the core of the defense, they are the leader on the court nine times out of 10.

“There aren’t many kids, from a coaching standpoint, that I can look at – or yell at – and get the exact response that is needed. All I had to do was say her name. All I have to do is say “Kate…” and she says “I know, I know. I’ll fix it!”

When asked if there was anyone she wanted to thank for helping her reach this point of her career, Patterson said it would be “an endless line” of people.

“All my coaches, my parents, my sister, all my friends,” she said. “They’ve always been so supportive of me, even when I was dragging the team down because I was making mistakes…”

It was here that Joyner interjected, saying: “And there were times when you stepped on that court and picked every single person out there up.”

Patterson replied: “Well, that’s true. I’ve always had very supportive friends who were always picking me up when I was down, and when I was in a running streak where I couldn’t do anything right. I need to thank everybody. I don’t think there’s anybody who told me that I wouldn’t be able to do what I wanted to do.”

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