McKenzie Dimery was questioning whether she wanted to continue playing volleyball.
The former A&M Consolidated player saw her playing time diminish as her freshman season at Panola progressed, but a Christmas break spent away from volleyball rekindled her love for the sport. After a spring semester of hard work, she says she’s ready for her sophomore season.
“When you go to college, it’s your job and that’s what’s paying for your school, so you have to want more for yourself and change ways that you did in high school,” she said.
Dimery didn’t have any scholarship offers from four-year colleges, so she jumped at offers from junior colleges. She initially committed to Seward County Community College in Kansas, but after visiting Panola, Dimery said she was drawn to its atmosphere and proximity to family.
Her parents, Thirman and Michelle Dimery, made it to nearly all her games as she achieved her dream of playing college volleyball.
“It was very enjoyable to see all her hard work finally pay off,” Thirman Dimery said. “As a kid, you always talk about playing college sports, and to have her work the way she has and now it come to fruition, you get to see it. That was what excited me to watch her play against other top athletes.”
McKenzie Dimery, an outside hitter and defensive specialist, played in 30 matches last season, starting four, and she averaged 0.47 kills per set. During the spring, she said she pushed herself harder than ever and made healthier eating choices to help increase her performance.
Thirman Dimery, who played basketball at Schreiner in Kerrville, knows the toll college athletics takes and can share that experience with McKenzie. He also was a longtime basketball coach, including six seasons as an assistant and head coach for the Consol boys basketball team.
“I talk to her more as a father than a coach,” he said. “I’m very positive with her and very critical of what she does on the court also. It’s not just one way or the other. She knows we’re always going to be very supportive, but we’re always going to be honest with her.”
Thirman Dimery said he appreciates how well McKenzie takes criticism, something he says not everyone her age is mature enough to handle. As her playing time diminished, Thirman urged her to stay positive. He thinks that experience will serve her well in the long run and make her hungrier for playing time.
“He knows what it’s like playing for a college team and college coaches and everything like that,” McKenzie said. “It just helps when he compares his lessons that he learned, so I don’t make a mistake or I learn from what he did and just become a better player.”
McKenzie isn’t ready to give up volleyball. She hopes she can earn a scholarship at a four-year university, but if not, the kinesiology major will look for a college with a good physical therapy program where she can continue her studies and play club volleyball.
Her dad has some advice on that front.
“Just to be more of a leader of a court, just go out there and play like it’s your last game every game because she doesn’t know if she’s going to play next year,” he said. “Next year for volleyball isn’t guaranteed.”