Edmond Embraces Role as UK Volleyball's First Lexingtonian
This is the first of a six-part series of feature stories on the 2016 Kentucky Volleyball team.
The University of Kentucky has been playing volleyball for 40 seasons. Yet the program has never had a player from the city of Lexington.
Freshman Leah Edmond joins the Wildcats for the 2016 campaign after a stellar high school career at Lexington’s Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. And Edmond’s presence on the team fulfills a goal for Kentucky head coach Craig Skinner.
“Walking into the gym the first day on the job, I just couldn’t wait to have a player from Lexington because it’s going to mean a lot to our fans and it’s going to mean a lot to the development of our program,” Skinner said. “It’s been a goal of mine since coming to Lexington. Volleyball was not a very popular sport in the grand scheme of things 11 years ago. It’s grown tremendously here.”
Edmond moved to Lexington prior to her freshman year of high school when her father, Corey Edmond, was hired as the head strength and conditioning coach for the Kentucky football team. But dad’s employment with the UK Athletic Department did not mean Leah would automatically become a Wildcat.
“He was like ‘it’s your choice, wherever you want to play’,” Leah said of her father’s advice. “(My parents) definitely didn’t want me to base it off of where they are going to be, because you never know how long they will be in a place, so it was my decision.”
And in making the choice to attend Kentucky, the younger Edmond became the first Lexingtonian to ever appear on a Wildcats’ roster, something she was not aware of at the time she made her decision.
“It was really exciting when I found out,” Edmond said. “It’s really cool to be the first. It’s like I’m laying the path for more girls from Lexington to get into the program and start playing for Kentucky.”
Skinner didn’t recruit Edmond solely because she was from Lexington. It was largely due to her credentials, which include being named All-State twice, being an AAU All-American and being ranked as the seventh-best senior in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com.
Edmond is excited to begin her college career and is already thinking ahead to what home matches in Memorial Coliseum will be like for her.
“I’m really excited, especially playing in front of my friends and family,” she said. “I know tons of them are coming in because they can get the double feature of me and my dad in a weekend.”
Skinner knows that Edmond fully embraces the role as the program’s first Lexington native.
“I think Leah feels an immense amount of pride putting on that Kentucky jersey,” Skinner said. “She’s ready to help this program do things it hasn’t done before.”
Edmond has already impressed some of her new teammates.
“Leah is doing awesome with hitting,” said junior libero Ashley Dusek. “She’s starting to get into the groove.”
Edmond says Dusek has been a big help to her in fall camp.
“When I struggle with serve receive, Ashley will help me,” Edmond says. “She works with me after practice, so that’s really helpful.”
The freshman expects to make an impact this season, and she’s already setting goals for herself.
“A goal for myself is to start, and another goal is to make the SEC All-Freshman Team,” she says, before adding, “and Freshman of the Year, if I can.”
Edmond is already a trend-setter for the Wildcats, and now that the program has a player from Lexington, Edmond and Skinner hope there will be many more to follow.