Go to any Seawolves volleyball game, and you’re bound to hear the name Carolyn DeKay a lot. Whether you hear it from the public announcer, teammates, or the cheering crowd, it’s a name that the opposing team knows to look out for.
DeKay began playing volleyball in seventh grade on the suggestion of her aunt, who said DeKay had big hands. She played throughout high school and now the UAA junior has a .236 attack percentage, which makes DeKay one of the top outside hitters.
Besides kills, aces and blocks to focus on, she also has schoolwork, a husband and a baby.
In December 2002, DeKay, then a sophomore, married Curtis Townsend.
The wedding was two days after finals and the couple had planned the wedding throughout the volleyball season. DeKay said it made her playing suffer a little.
“There were more things to distract her,” said Kim Lauwers, UAA’s head volleyball coach. “Most players just focus on school then volleyball. Planning the wedding was another situation. She was still good, just not consistent.”
The next distraction came in spring 2003, while the volleyball team was in conditioning. DeKay discovered she was pregnant.
Although she wanted to play, she knew she had to take a break.
“I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” DeKay said.
DeKay tried to stay in shape during her pregnancy by working at the Alaska Club. She was able to practice volleyball thanks to pick-up games with her friends.
On October 10, 2003, DeKay gave birth to her baby girl, Cassidy.
Getting back into the swing of things was easier than DeKay expected.
“When I couldn’t play, I went to all the games and watched, and saw the holes,” DeKay explained. “I was learning from a different perspective.”
During the summer, DeKay brought Cassidy to the weight room with her. But Cassidy needed to be entertained.
“It wasn’t all that successful,” said DeKay.
DeKay’s teammates are supportive and a lot of the girls watch Cassidy when DeKay needs to have some practice time.
“They love to see her more than me!” DeKay joked.
Not only does volleyball require a lot of time at the court, the team also travels nearly every other week. This causes DeKay to miss some of Cassidy’s development.
“I missed it when she began crawling,” DeKay said. “It’s a huge sacrifice that I’ve made.”
Lauwers tries to help prepare DeKay by letting her know that if her child is with family, then she’ll be in great hands.
“Most moms feel guilty,” Lauwers said. “But I don’t hold that against her, you can’t help feeling any other way.”
Lauwers says the 2004 version of DeKay is a team leader with new physical maturity. She has added experience to the team and is even a more consistent hitter than she was before the pregnancy.
DeKay has worked hard to increase her consistency and improve her volleyball skills. Still, she says that nothing is more rewarding than family.
“I’ve learned to be ready for anything,” DeKay said. “When things happen that aren’t expected, (I’ve learned) to handle it in the most positive way and enjoy it.”