In late 2011, Volleyball Hall of Famer Jon Hastings reached out to me for some content for one of his publications. Jon is the editor of Volleyball USA, the quarterly “official magazine of USA Volleyball” as well as DiG magazine, beach volleyball’s premiere publication. Jon needed an illustration to accompany an article about coaching juniors. The article advocates drills and practice that simulate game situations and admonishes many oft-used “artificial” techniques, like tossing serves to players or hitting at them from boxes. To reinforce the article’s thesis and bring a little visual fun to a didactic piece, I came up with a cartoon where a player is complaining to a referee that her opponent is allowed to stand on a box during their game. It was just a simple idea that helped point out the absurdity of not practicing like you play.
In need of a protagonist for my cartoon, I went to my favorite volleyball playing cousin. Katie Kelly is a 6′ 1″ Senior at UMBC who I’ve had the pleasure of peppering with since she was about 8 or 9 years old. Watching her grow up through the club system and eventually earn a full scholarship for her abilities was a thrill for me. So I modeled the main character in the cartoon after her, down to the #8 jersey and KELLY across the shoulders.
Since the initial illustration, my cartoons have become a regular part of the magazine. I’ve completed 11 and counting so far and hope to do more.