Skye (right) pictured with Cathy Noth (left)
Skye McDermott insists that the word “can’t” is not in her vocabulary.
“Growing up, the word ‘can’t’ was not allowed in my house,” says Skye. “The rule was, “if you say ‘can’t’, you gotta figure out how you can.”
The 2023 setter from Capital Volleyball Academy 16 Navy, led by her influential coach Nathan Kiekhaefer, grew up watching her older sister play volleyball. She credits her decision to play volleyball to sibling rivalry after her sister said she couldn’t play because it was “her sport”.
However, Skye had to face some challenges that would discourage most young athletes from playing volleyball. She was born with only one hand. As a young athlete she was determined to overcome this obstacle by training extra hard to excel at each skill.
“We never treated Skye any different. Treated her as if she had two hands. Skye does not consider herself disabled” shares Skye’s father Dan.
At age 11 Skye started playing for Madison Elite Volleyball Club. Coaches wanted Skye to be an outside hitter, but she felt that she could make the most difference as a setter. Like other setters, there are times when Skye is called for a double contact, but responds by quickly moving on to the next play, never doubting her abilities as a setter.
“Everyone jokes when I get called for a double. They say ‘how is that a double, you don’t have 2 hands to double it with?’” jokes Skye.
Skye spent a lot of time training to be a setter and has been fortunate to train under legendary coaches and Olympians Cathy Noth and Rod Wilde, who reside nearby in Madison, Wisconsin. Cathy specifically worked with Skye on taking the ball higher on her platform for forearm passing, bump setting and defense.
Skye’s love for volleyball keeps her busy as she competes year round. In the fall she is the starting varsity setter for Evansville High School. During the winter and spring she competes for Capital Volleyball Academy. Plus, Skye is on the training team for the USA Paralympic Sitting Team, and the USA Paralympic Beach Team. Two years ago she went to China and won a Silver Medal at the age of 14. Her ultimate goal is to compete for Team USA in the 2028 Paralympics in Los Angeles.
Outside of volleyball Skye has learned leadership and the importance of academics through her involvement in Girl Scouts. She currently has a 3.87 GPA with no intention of letting that slide. She also spends a lot of time with her dad watching movies, especially during the pandemic.
“Getting my story out there is just a way for people who are like me to know that it is okay to go out and pursue whatever you want to” shares Skye.
Skye and Kerri Walsh Jennings
When she trained with and met Kerri Walsh Jennings, Kerri’s words resonated with her. “Change the world because you can“. Many people are going to stick to what is comfortable and what they know best.
“When you have something that’s not perceived as normal it’s harder to do what you want, but it also makes you stand out” adds Skye. “Be yourself.”
Skye aspires to play indoor and beach volleyball in college, with no intentions of slowing down her journey any time soon.