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Volleyball player serving

Student-Athlete Spotlight | Courtney Standley

After establishing herself as a leader on Yakima Valley College’s volleyball team during the 2021 season — when she was named second team setter on the Northwest Athletic Conference’s Sophomore All-Star Team — Courtney Standley’s attention turned to her second sport, playing for the Yaks women’s basketball team.

During the middle of the season, however, Standley found out she had a heart condition which caused episodes of irregular, fast heartbeats.

“I had to have heart surgery, which went well, but the recovery was tough,” she said. “It took a lot of physical therapy to get back to the point where I could play again.”

But Standley overcame that challenge to find even greater success in her sophomore volleyball season, including being named to the all-star team at the Edmonds Invitational in September and a setter of the week for the NWAC’s East Region.

“The thing I love about volleyball is how you have to think in the moment, the game is so fast…. Everyone needs to be flexible and do what the team needs them to do in the moment.” — Courtney Standley

Standley started playing volleyball competitively at age 9, following the path of her older sister, whose love for the sport led to their father becoming first a fan, then a referee and finally a coach.

“The thing I love about volleyball is how you have to think in the moment, the game is so fast,” Standley said. “I find is exciting because as a player you have to be able to do a lot of everything. Even though you have a certain role to play, everyone needs to be flexible and do what the team needs them to do in the moment.”

Standley was first introduced to YVC’s program while playing club volleyball, when the team adjacent to hers was coached by YVC Head Coach Darci Dekker.

In making her college decision in the middle of the pandemic, YVC being close to home helped seal the deal to continue her playing career locally after graduating from Yakima’s La Salle High School.

“I wasn’t sure yet what I wanted to do for school, so doing my first couple years at YVC made so much sense,” Standley said. “I also just really clicked with the girls on the team who I met so it all came together.”

Volleyball player
Courtney Standley prepares to receive serve during a match against Spokane Community College in October 2022.

Standley said the volleyball team’s success this year owes a lot to how well all of her teammates have bonded off the court.

“I feel like our team is a big bunch of goofballs and we have so much fun together,” she said. That’s included visiting a treetop aerial adventure course outside of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and doing exercises in which team members need to work together to cross a series of beams while some are blindfolded and others can’t talk.

Standley’s passion for the sport transcends playing. In 2021 she coached one of Team Yakima Volleyball Club’s under 14 teams and this year coached its U15 elite team. She also regularly serves as a referee for middle school matches in the region.

Standley’s goal is to play volleyball for two more years at a four-year school while completing her bachelor’s degree in physical therapy or athletic training.

While her career playing college volleyball will come to an end at some point, the sport will always be a part of her life — whether it is supporting and cheering on her younger sister, coaching, being a referee or working as an athletic trainer. And one day, perhaps, watching her own children play volleyball.

“The other girls on the team joke that, ‘Oh, you’re definitely going to marry someone who loves volleyball, and then both of you will end up coaching volleyball together. You’ll be the well-known volleyball family’,” Standley said. “Volleyball is my passion.”