It’s rare that a freshman is deemed talented enough to play at the varsity level in any sport. The jump from middle school competition to varsity speed is as a steep as they get. That challenge was a breeze for an athlete like Western Michigan Christian’s Cassie Kingma, as she was a four-year varsity starter in three sports for the Warriors.
Kingma played middle blocker and attacker for the Warriors volleyball team for four seasons, earning All-Conference and Academic All-State status in her senior season.
Western Michigan Christian volleyball coach Trent Smillie
On what makes Cassie such a great volleyball player:
“Cassie has both a high skill level and a very high level of athletic ability. She is fast, tall and agile — all the traits that it takes to be a great player. She is a fast learner and will probably be a great teacher someday, also.”
On career growth
“I would say her junior year, when she played on a high-level travel team during the winter season. Later that school year, she touched the rim at a basketball practice in February, which kind of showcased her growth as an athlete. Her understanding of the game was keeping up with her athleticism at that point in her career, and she went to another level as a player because of that.”
First impression of Cassie:
“I quickly realized that she is a hard worker and a good teammate and that she loves to learn and is enthusiastic about it.”
Favorite memory while coaching Cassie:
“One that is really sticking out in my mind was at the end of last season against our rival, Covenant Christian at the South Christian Invitational. Cassie put on a show, hitting over .500 from everywhere around the net. She had blocks, digs and great serving. I am not sure if I have ever seen her that focused throughout an entire event.”
On Cassie being a multi-sport athlete:
“I 100-percent believe that her playing three sports helped her. Being in a Class C school, she is a top athlete in her class. She really needs to participate in every sport that she enjoys, while she is there. Her volleyball, soccer and basketball lifestyle helped her become better at all three sports, due to the cross training. It has stopped burnout in any one sport, and she is a better overall athlete now because of that.
With her height, quickness and athleticism, Kingma held a distinct advantage of most of the teams she went up against on the basketball court. She was a fearless defender, who had the ability to guard all five positions on the floor. In her senior season, she averaged nine points, five rebounds and three assists and helped the Warriors to a Class C district championship and an appearance in the Class C regional finals.
WMC girls basketball coach Jeremy Goorman
On what makes Cassie a great basketball player:
“Cassie was an all-around great basketball player and a consummate team player. She would rebound, pass well, and could shoot it at a decent clip, too. Her left hand dribble was her best asset, and she used it to get by anyone. Her height (5-foot-10) made her see over the defense, and she could use it to break a press. She would jump at the beginning of each game and never lost a jump ball.
“We counted on her to guard the opposing team’s best player. It didn't matter if the girl was a point guard or a center. She was a consistent player, too. She was pulled up her freshman year for playoffs and contributed right away. We will miss her pleasant attitude and her work ethic.”
On Cassie being a multi-sport athlete:
“I think multiple-sport athletes are terrific. It really helped Cassie in all three sports. Her footwork was incredible for a taller girl. She not only excelled at all three sports, but the coaches relied on her to do a lot of things in each of those sports, and she never let them down.
“Next year will be a difficult reality when Cassie Kingma is not on the playing fields at WMC. I don't think we have anyone who will match her athleticism for years to come.”
The soccer pitch was where Kingma really left her mark, as a fearless defender who often dislodged the ball from opposing attackers. Her defensive dominance helped the Warriors to a Lakes Eight Conference championship this spring, and a run to the Class D state semifinals in her junior season.
WMC girls soccer coach David Hulings
On what makes Cassie such a great soccer player:
“Cassie is a pure athlete. I think she could play any high school sport and start for that team. What makes her great at our sport is her attention to detail and her craving to learn the game. She never quits thinking and studying the game. It takes her awhile to convert from basketball to soccer mode, probably several weeks. That hurts the overall development of her soccer skills, yet, by the end of the season, she is often one of the best (and in some cases the best) on the pitch.”
On career growth:
“She grew every season and you could see individual growth game to game. She had growth from half to half and touch to touch, as well. That is Cassie Kingma, and that is rare for a high school player to possess. Most high school players are content with their given talent. Cassie tried to get better each moment she played. It was so amazing and unusual.”
First impression of Cassie:
“Cassie's athleticism was to simply get better for the sake of being a contributor to the team. That is what speaks to Cassie as a person. Despite often being the best player on the team, she was improving herself for the purpose of improving others. Some athletes need to surround themselves with others to make themselves good. Cassie made sure she was surrounding others to make them good. Her unselfish attitude was noticed by teammates who selected her as captain both her junior and senior year.”
Favorite memory coaching Cassie:
“Cassie played 90 soccer games for me and more than 130 practice sessions. That is a lot of time to spend with a player. I can truthfully and honestly say I never once saw Cassie down on herself or another player. She was one of the most pleasant individuals to be around. She was encouraging to me, personally. She was willing to always say an encouraging word to me. I was supposed to be there for her, but she was often the one who encouraged me. That is what I will remember. She greeted me each day with a big, warm and accepting smile. Her love for Christ came through in her love for others.”
On being a multi-sport athlete:
“In my 25 years of coaching spring soccer, I have learned that the spring season is tough on all athletes. For three-sport athletes, it can be brutal. How many sports the athlete plays is an athlete-parent issue. My job is to recognize and properly manage the three-sport athlete's muscle fatigue, game adaptation and training and game stress.
“As coaches, we push the players so much, and we don't like to let up. I have learned you can go a lot farther with the best athletes (in the spring) by going slow to go fast. I think Cassie benefited from all her experiences because she was committed to learning from each. I think, as her coach, my job was to make sure her decisions were beneficial to her and her team. I don't know if the three sport approach benefited Cassie, but I know Cassie benefited her team and her coaches.”
Tribune Top Five Countdown
Honorable Mention: Reiko Johnson of Spring Lake and Emily Winicki of Fruitport
No. 5 — Katheryn Ackerman
No. 4 — Cassie Kingma
No. 3 — Week of July 17
No. 2 — Week of July 24
No. 1 — Week of July 31