Kenai Central libero Jaycie Castillo talks with head coach Tracie Beck before a set at the Class 3A state volleyball tournament Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central libero Jaycie Castillo talks with head coach Tracie Beck before a set at the Class 3A state volleyball tournament Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Tracie, Emma Beck get national volleyball recognition

Tracie Beck, the head coach of the Kenai Central volleyball team, and her daughter, Kardinals senior right-side hitter Emma Beck, have received national recognition for Kenai’s 2023 run to the Class 3A state volleyball title.

Tracie was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association Region 10 Coach of the Year on Nov. 15.

The AVCA has 8,000 members and, according to its website, its mission is to advance volleyball with coaches at the center of leadership, advocacy and professional development.

Region 10 includes Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

Emma was given a series of honors from the AVCA.

On Oct. 25, Emma was one of 747 athletes, and one of six Alaskans, given the AVCA Best and Brightest First Team award. Athletes must excel on and off the court, with a 3.8 unweighted grade-point average required for the first team.

On Nov. 1, Emma was one of two Alaskans to make the AVCA All-Region Team.

That made Emma eligible for the AVCA High School All-America Team and on Nov. 8 Emma made the High School All-America Third Team. There are 50 girls on the first team, 50 girls on the second team and 50 girls on the third team.

Both Tracie and Emma said it was an amazing way to cap a year in which the Kardinals went 21-1 in full length matches and won the Class 3A state title for the second straight year. Kenai was appearing in a fourth-straight Class 3A state title game.

“This year has been pretty crazy,” Tracie said. “It’s been kind of surreal. You know how long I’ve been working on this project. It just didn’t happen overnight.”

Tracie originally started coaching at Kenai in 2012 and didn’t win a game in conference that year. Kenai improved through 2016 but never made state when Tracie took a season off.

In 2018, Tracie returned when the Kards were in their first season at 3A. The team didn’t make state that year, but lost in the state final in 2019. In 2020, Emma joined forces with her mother and Kenai would only lose three full-length matches in Emma’s four years, winning two of three state titles. There was no state title contested in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Bruce King, a Kenai assistant, said Tracie is the sixth Alaska coach to receive the region coach of the year in all regions, all years and all classes.

Tracie said just as the award didn’t just happen this year, the award also isn’t about her. She said she has amazing assistants, dedicated players and an incredible board on the Kenai Volleyball Booster Club.

“I didn’t have a goal to get this award,” Tracie said. “I wanted to help the kids grow in the sport and take those skills into life to find success.”

By winning the award, Tracie will be honored at the AVCA Convention in Florida on Dec. 15. She said it’s disappointing she can’t go at the last minute, but not because she wants to get the award in person. Tracie said she wants to be around so much volleyball knowledge.

“I’m a teacher at heart and I never feel like I’ve arrived,” she said.

Emma’s first love was basketball. In middle school, Emma told her mother she’d play volleyball just because her mother was the coach.

Now Emma will not play basketball for the Kards in her senior year as she pursues an opportunity in college volleyball.

“Freshman year, I had some seniors that helped me fall in love with the competitive aspect of volleyball,” Emma said. “The love for it rubbed off.”

Emma said getting honored as an All-American was a surprise. Like her mother, she said the award is not hers alone.

“I think I worked pretty hard, but the team lifted me up in a position where I could succeed,” Emma said.

Emma also credited her mother with creating a program where being an All-American is possible.

This winter, Emma will play with the Midnight Sun Volleyball Club out of Anchorage with the hope of catching the eyes of some colleges.

Many on the All-American list already have college commitments listed. That and Emma’s 4.0 grade-point average makes it likely she will follow her sister, Abby, who also played college volleyball.

“You hear all the time about All-American stuff, but I never thought it would be me,” Emma said. “It caught me off-guard, especially in Alaska.

“There’s a lot of really good athletes in Alaska, but they’re not really seen.”

Kenai Central’s Emma Beck attacks Nikiski’s Evelyn Reichert on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Central’s Emma Beck attacks Nikiski’s Evelyn Reichert on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

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