KAPAA — Four years ago, recent Kapaa High School graduate Carson Schmick, 18, wasn’t the least bit interested in boys volleyball.
The Sonoma, California, native even admitted growing up, he didn’t know there was a boys option for volleyball.
“I was always a baseball and basketball kind of guy,” Schmick said on Wednesday. “I never even knew there was men’s volleyball. I always thought it was a girls sport.”
In the fall, the 6-foot-2 Schmick will be enrolled at Santa Barbara City College — a community college in the Western State Conference — where he will join the school’s men’s volleyball team.
He’s guaranteed a roster spot as a preferred walk-on.
“It’s a really good feeling,” he said. “I never wanted to look back, look at this year as my last year playing, like I said. I made that happen, and it’s really exciting for what’s ahead.”
On a whim, Schmick tried out for the Warriors boys volleyball program his freshman year.
“I think I either got cut or I didn’t make the baseball team. So, I was like, ‘Alright, got to figure out something to do,’” he said. “I heard about a volleyball tryout on the P.A. system. I was like, ‘That seems kind of interesting. For boys, whatever, but I’ll give it a try. There’s jumping involved. I’m a basketball guy. I can jump.’ And I was probably one of the tallest kids back then.”
Little did he know he would eventually become just as ardent as someone who grew up into the sport.
“I remember a specific time. I went to a baseball camp thing here, and it was hot. Really hot,” Schmick said. “This was my sophomore year. I go to the beach, and I start playing beach volleyball. I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, this is a lot better. This is way more fun.’ Just me finding out about the sport and falling in love with it, it’s just been an awesome journey.”
During his senior year, Schmick was a consistent and dependable points-scorer for the Warriors as an outside hitter.
Kapaa had a perfect 12-0 regular season en route to winning a second-consecutive Kauai Interscholastic Federation championship.
Kapaa then finished second at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II boys volleyball state tournament.
At the end of the year, Schmick was named on the Division II boys volleyball all-tournament team — voted for by the HHSAA and the media — as an outside hitter.
Just last week, it was announced Schmick was named KIF Boys Volleyball Player of the Year as voted for by the league’s coaches.
It was after his junior year, though, the thought occurred to him that he did not want to be finished with volleyball after graduating from high school.
“I realized I only had one season left of volleyball, competitively. I just remember thinking, ‘You’re not done,’” he said. “I just remember telling myself that one day. And then, I think that following week, I signed up for a recruiting thing online. That was mainly to help get exposure.”
Though the process was slow initially, he would eventually make his goal a reality.
What drew him to the Santa Barbara junior college was because he wanted to go to school on the West Coast.
“I don’t want to toot my own horn, but there were offers to go to the East Coast — good offers with money even. But I really wanted to stay West Coast,” Schmick said. “It’s where I’m from, and my family really wanted me to stay West Coast. They weren’t ready for me to go to the East Coast, to be so far away.”
It’s been weeks since the D2 championship game at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center, but Schmick is still coming to terms with the loss.
Kapaa lost to Hawaii Baptist Academy of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu in the title match in straight sets.
The loss was very disappointing, but now he wants to take those experiences with him to Santa Barbara and hopes he’ll be better for it.
“For me to look back and say, ‘What can I learn from that and move forward?’ I think that’s the main thing,” he said. “Learn from it and progress. … I’m trying to cope with it and trying to learn from it. Trying to use it as my new-found motivation. Just work it out.”
Schmick plans to earn his degree in business with an emphasis on financing at SBCC. But even after he’s done there, Schmick still doesn’t want to stop with volleyball.
He said former Kapaa teammate Wyatt Harrison will be playing men’s volleyball next year at the University of California, San Diego. He hopes to join his former Warriors teammate there in time.
“We’ve been texting each other a little bit about where we’re going next year. I told him, ‘One of my goals, maybe my main goal, is to be joining you in two years,” he said. “He said, ‘That would be awesome.’ … It’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication. I think for the passion I have for the game, I think it’s something possible.”
As for the last four years as a Warrior, Schmick said his time in Kapaa was simply “awesome.”
“Not even just with volleyball. I’ve had an awesome high school experience,” he said. “A big part of that being volleyball. The excitement I get when I’m playing, when I think about it, it’s a passion. I wake up, and I’m excited if I get the chance to play. … It’s been an awesome experience learning the game and playing it.”