It’s pretty easy to tell that Indiana Wesleyan University Volleyball Middle Blocker Kylie Portera (so) is a nursing major.
“I could tell within the first week [I met her] that she was a nurse,” Outside Hitter Sarah Collicott (so), one of Portera’s roommates, said. “Just through the way she treats people and cares for people, she’s really level-headed in a lot of situations.”
“Kylie has a personality that is perfect for a nurse,” Head Coach Candace Moats said. “She sees peoples’ needs and she cares for them.”
Portera’s caring personality and hard work on the court have been instrumental in the volleyball team’s success this season. Through Dec. 1, she ranked fourth on the team with 271 kills. Now, the Wildcats are entering the final stretch of a very successful season in which they won the Crossroads League regular-season title for the third straight year.
But ironically enough, Moats and Portera actually formed their relationship in the midst of defeat.
“I was at a club tournament the summer after my junior year [of high school] and I was playing a game and I had heard from someone that there was going to be someone from IWU there,” Portera said. She added her team was not playing well that day.
“It was one of those games where, at the end, you talk as a team and then everyone just splits out and goes by their parents,” Portera said.
Moats didn’t care that Portera’s team was playing badly. She saw something special in Portera that she knew she liked.
“Kylie’s team was not doing well at the time, but I saw her constantly staying focused and talking to her teammates, telling them to keep their heads up,” Moats said. “Her coach was getting somewhat angry, and she was keeping her poise. And I just was so impressed with how she handled this whole disappointing experience. For her, it seemed like it was bigger than just the game.”
Moats approached Portera after the game. Portera was surprised that anyone would want to talk to a member of her team after its subpar performance.
“I just spoke truth to her and said, ‘I watched you and you inspired me,’” Moats recalled.
From that moment, Portera said she knew she had to look at IWU as a possible college to attend. One month later, she visited, and she was sold right away. She decided she would attend the university as a nursing major and play on the volleyball team the next fall.
Portera’s nursing mentality showed itself immediately to her teammates.
“I could tell that she really had a heart for God with everything, whether through her actions or words spoken,” said Defensive Specialist Sam Elkin (so), who now also rooms with Portera.
Portera didn’t play much her freshman year because the Wildcats already had All-American Middle Blocker Kristine Egebrecht (alumna ’14), but she’s had a breakout campaign this fall.
“[Kylie’s] gotten a lot more confident this year, and she’s taking a lot more responsibility as she finds herself as more of a contributor on the court,” Moats said.
But Portera hopes Wildcats fans will watch her team for more than just good volleyball – she wants them to see a glimpse of the love of Christ.
“Now I know I don’t [treat my teammates] perfectly,” Portera said. “But I hope when people watch our games, they see that the way we work together on the court is glorifying to God.”
This story is a part of Co-Editor-in-Chief Jared Johnson’s “Stars in the Background” series on overlooked stars in IWU athletics. For more information, click here.