Family Influences Create Volleyball Avenue

Senior outside hitter Kevin Sagers. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

Born and raised in the same house in Las Vegas, Nev., BYU senior outside hitter Kevin Sagers played every sport growing up, but through the influence of an older brother and sister, he started playing volleyball.

“My brother started playing volleyball and jumped on the team his senior year,” recalled Sagers. “My older sister watched him and thought it looked fun and did it all four years. Next, I watched her and some of my friends were playing it and I thought it looked fun so I did it too.”

Starting his freshman year of high school, Sagers did not play club volleyball, but did play all four years on his high school team. His freshmen and sophomore years he played soccer, but after enduring two summer soccer workouts in the Las Vegas heat, he decided to stay in the air-conditioned gym and just focus on volleyball.

After making the decision of only playing volleyball, it was hard to get him apart from his teammates.

“We hung out together on and off the court, it was a really fun environment,” Sagers said. “We went to school together, to practice together, and we went home together from practice. Volleyball was an extension of our social network; it was what we did together to have fun.”

Not only did he enjoy spending time with his teammates on and off the court, but they all enjoyed “dominating” the competition.

“There was no comparison of our team and the teams we played – we dominated,” Sagers said. “During my junior year at Centennial high school we won state. We only lost four sets out of 23 matches. That’s one of the reasons we had so much fun and goofed off, because we were just so much better than everyone else.”

When volleyball wasn’t in season, the group of friends, also known as teammates, would always have access to the church gym to play volleyball.

“My parents stopped worrying about me because they knew I was with a good group of guys,” Sagers said.

Thinking he may have to leave volleyball behind after graduating from high school, Sagers came to BYU. His older sister, Kristen, told him how much she regretted not trying out for the women’s team and encouraged him to try out for the men’s team.

Kristen told him, “At least try and see if you can do it. Even if you don’t make it, you’ll at least live the rest of your life knowing you tried.”

Following his sister’s advice, Sagers tried out for the team and made it. Having never lifted weights in his life, he injured his back early in the year and had to sit out 3-4 months not doing anything. After one year at BYU he traveled to the Canary Islands to serve a two-year mission for the LDS Church.

“If I had to tell one story from my mission, it was of one lady we baptized on the island of Lanzarote,” Sagers said. “The lady had an injury at work, and instead of paying them to sit at home, in Spain they make them sell lottery tickets. One of our members was at a hospital where this lady was selling these lottery tickets and just sat down next to her and started reading out of the Bible.”

Sagers was able to see this woman make big changes in her life and eventually be baptized into the church. All the while she was being a good example to her daughters and having them follow in her footsteps.

“It was great to be a part of something where one person decides to change and has an influence on their family and now their entire lives are different,” Sagers said. “Now they are strong members of the Church and have been married in the temple. That was probably one of the coolest experiences from my mission – and one that was very uncommon.”

After two years away from the court, Sagers came back to BYU, not thinking he would be able to make the team again.

“Halfway through my mission I heard about how good the team was and my chances of making the team look pretty bleak,” he said. “I came back to watch the team play, finding that the guys I was scared of, were gone. I continued to watch the team and felt like I could compete with those guys.”

Trying out for the team again, he made it and worked his way up to a starting position and significant playing time for the last two years.

However, it wasn’t easy to get to the position he currently holds. Former head coach Shawn Patchell called Sagers to his office to tell him he wasn’t getting good enough technique-wise and was going to cut him.

Sagers told Patchell, “No,” and worked his hardest to prove to Patchell that he was worth keeping on the team. After observing stats at practice, Sagers was out-hitting all of the players. Later Patchell took back what he said and kept him on the team.

Enjoying a great playing career with the Cougars while maintaining one of the highest GPAs on the team, BYU couldn’t have been a better choice for Sagers, not to mention meeting the future Mrs. Sagers.

A member of the BYU track team, Mindy Robbins and Sagers had seen each other occasionally through athletics and in the training room, but never talked. A mutual friend, Dmitri Schumacher, was Sagers’ roommate and was sitting next to him in Legends Grille one day when she came over and said hello to Schumacher.

“I took the opportunity to say hi and introduce myself,” said Sagers. “We talked for a little bit then and later I ended up contacting her on Facebook. I talked to her on there and then eventually got her phone number and we started talking on the phone and I finally asked her out. We hung out once, and then every day after that.”

After eight months of dating, the couple was engaged and eventually was married at the end of June 2010 in the Mount Timpanogos temple.

In living an already fulfilling BYU career, Sagers looks forward to leaving everything on the court and finishing on top during his senior season as a Cougar.

“I just want to win a National Championship and a conference championship,” he said. “In the past I’ve had these personal goals of being an All-American, starting every game and delivering all these stats, but at this point I don’t care about all that anymore. I am just tired of finishing in second and getting to the quarterfinals or semi-finals. I just want to win and I think we finally have the team to do it.”

With such a talented team with great team chemistry, the 2011 squad looks to earn BYU’s fourth men’s volleyball National Championship.

“It’s our new head coach’s first year and our last year, it would be sweet for all of us if we went out on top,” he said. “I just want to win, I don’t care about anything else but going out on top.”

Tags: Feature