Such is the case with Jacksonville High School’s Katie Neisler, a senior volleyball player for the Lady Eagles. Katie is the youngest of four children, and of three sisters who have changed volleyball at JHS forever.
Eldest sister Elizabeth, who led the Lady Eagles to back-to-back state championships and won just about every award possible, went on to star at Samford University, leading her college team to heights that they had never reached.
Caroline, the middle sister, also was a standout for the Lady Eagles and also felt the joy of winning state championships with sister Elizabeth.
Caroline went on to play at the University of North Alabama and then transferred to play her last year at Samford University. Tragically, acute myeloid leukemia cut Caroline’s life short as she passed away in May.
But while Elizabeth and Caroline took Jacksonville volleyball to heights that it had never reached before, Katie, the youngest sister and a senior, is set to make her own legacy at the high school.
Last year when the Lady Eagles made it to the state championship game against Madison County, a game that Jacksonville lost, Katie was recognized for her performance and ability being named to the All-State Tournament team and to All-State.
Katie has been playing on varsity since the eighth grade, having been moved up to play in the state finals in a year that the Lady Eagles did not win.
The youngest of the Neisler sisters is the only one that doesn’t have a state championship ring on her finger, something that she would like to change. Jacksonville certainly has all the weapons they need this year to once again win the state championship, and the biggest weapon they have is the experience and maturity of Katie, who this year has been switched from being a middle hitter to outside hitter.
When asked about what her expectations for her team this year are, Katie didn’t hesitate to say, “always state; that is the big picture.”
The Lady Eagles are very strong this year, having lost only one starter from their squad last year. Katie is quick to point out though that the Lady Eagles need to still to work hard. “I think we still have things we need to work on, but I think altogether they are just little things that we can easily fix if we all come together,” said Katie. “If we fix these little mistakes we’ll be really good. Our team has been together for a long time and we are friends off the court as well.”
The energetic senior, who has already committed to play volleyball at Samford, spent the summer playing, of course volleyball, but added a new dimension to her game, beach volleyball.
In the summer while playing with her club volleyball team, Sting, whom she has been playing with for six years, she and her friend and fellow team member Olivia Dailey decided to play in a beach tournament while they were in Orlando. They had only played a couple of times but, talented as they are, ended up in fourth place and qualified for Nationals that were held at Hermosa Beach in California. “We didn’t do too bad,” said Katie of the experience.
Katie admits that she and older sister Elizabeth have talked about playing beach volleyball after Katie finishes college. Sounds like a new Kerri Walsh-Jennings-Misty May Treanor combination in the making!
When not playing volleyball Katie enjoys going to football games and supporting other sports, and of course, hanging out with friends.
For now however, foremost on her mind is playing volleyball for the Lady Eagles and making some of her own legacies to hand down to the younger girls. “We have always looked up to the older girls,’ said Katie. “Those girls were amazing. They have state rings. We want to live up to that legacy. We want to be like that. We’re trying to come back with a legacy of our own.”