Since her redshirt season in 2000, Katie Jo Shirley, a 6-foot middle blocker from Hayden, Idaho, has been putting her size and ability to use for Lady Rams of CSU volleyball. One of five children, including a twin brother, the junior took the time to sit down and chat about her recent engagement, family life, religion and – of course – volleyball.
JP: So, when’s the big day?
KJS: January third
JP: What was your initial reaction when he popped the question?
KJS: I knew it was coming, but I was still very excited. We didn’t set a date right then, but we figured it would be around Christmas break.
JP: Where’s the wedding?
KJS: Spokane, Washington
JP: Why Washington?
KJS: His family lives Washington.
JP: Are you getting anxious?
KJS: (Astonished) Heck, are you kidding? He’s not even here…I’m dying to see him.
JP: Where’s he?
KJS: He’s in Montana
KJS: No, he’s working on wildfires.
JP: Oh, so he’s a firefighter.
KJS: Yeah, he’s a wild and firefighter.
JP: So does it distract you being engaged?
KJS: No, but I think it will be strange being the only married woman on the team. I’ll be the old one, but I’m the oldest on the team anyway.
JP: Speaking of the team, what kind of influence has (head) coach (Tom) Hilbert had on your career?
KJS: He’s a good teacher, he’s taught me a lot since I’ve been here. I mean, my whole game has improved. I redshirted my first year and that helped a lot. Since then my arm swing has improved, my passing and blocking…basically every aspect of my game is better because of Hilbert and our two assistants Karrie (Larsen) and Andy (Klussmann).
JP: What about this team’s future? You’ve played and lost to two top-25 teams (Stanford and Cal-Berkeley) but are still 4-2, how do you see the team progressing from here?
KJS: I think we’ve been playing really well. We had a couple of easy games last night and this morning, so that may have caught us off guard, but I think with Cal we are totally comparable. We made a few mistakes, but if we can cut down on errors we’ll get to where we need to be.
JP: So who’s had the biggest influence on you as a player?
KJS: I’d have to say my sister Angie. She played at Oregon State and I just followed in her footsteps for a while.
JP: Why did you choose CSU?
KJS: I had my five visits and I just had a feeling that this is where I needed to be. I have great teammates, good coaches, the people are friendly…I felt like I needed to be here.
JP: Being that you’re Mormon, did BYU ever recruit you?
KJS: No, I didn’t want to go over there anyway.
JP: Is it hard to live the lifestyle you do while in the college scene?
KJS: No, it’s not difficult for me. My teammates respect me a lot and the things that I believe in…the things that I value.
And what could be more valuable than a wedding and a Mountain West Conference Championship on the horizon.