The Linfield Christian girls volleyball team needed a new middle blocker this season. Coach Eric Hawes asked who was willing to step up, and Caylan Medley quickly raised her hand.
This should come as no surprise. Medley rarely, if ever, has backed down from a challenge.
Medley was a gymnast when she was younger but eventually grew out of the sport. She started to play volleyball and soccer in middle school and also got her start in track and field. Medley balanced the three sports at Linfield Christian and excelled in each of them, which is why she has been selected the IE Varsity Small Schools Girls Athlete of the Year.
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“The one thing that stands out most is the pure joy Caylan gets from working and competing,” Linfield Christian’s track and field coach Amber Young said. “She enjoys the process just as much as the result. She is a great example of what a multi-sport athlete can do.”
Young was Linfield Christian’s athletic director and girls soccer coach at the time Medley transitioned from middle school to high school.
“I have to give her a shout out,” Medley said of Young. “She told the athletes we could specialize in one sport but also said being a multi-sport athlete would look good on college applications. I really loved all three sports, so the encouragement from her and all of my coaches and teachers really helped me grow as an athlete.”
Medley was the volleyball team’s starting right-side hitter as a junior and helped the Lions advance to the CIF Southern Section finals. She injured her ankle in the semifinals and was unable to play in the section title match. Medley raced onto the court, crutches under her arms, when Linfield Christian claimed the title.
Hawes said Medley quickly adapted to her new position this season, and he believes Medley’s multi-sport background, especially as a high jumper, was the reason why.
“We ask our middle blockers to run a lot of slides on offense, and that motion and footwork is almost identical to a high jumper’s approach,” Hawes said. “She picked that up faster than anyone I’ve ever coached. I was so excited when she stepped up because I knew she would be willing to work as hard as possible to become better.”
Medley registered 162 kills as senior, nearly tripling her total from the previous season. Medley was efficient, as well, finishing the season with a .369 hitting percentage. And Medley was on the floor this season when the Lions celebrated another section championship.
“Knowing that I contributed to that victory was a tremendous felling,” Medley said.
Three days after the volleyball season ended, Medley suited up at goalkeeper for the soccer team’s opener. Medley split time at the position with Heidi Marshall throughout the season, and the duo combined for 12 shutouts and only allowed only 28 goals in 26 matches.
The Lions captured the Division 7 championship, the program’s first section title, and Medley also earned all-CIF Southern Section honors for her performance in goal.
“That was exciting to be part of history,” Medley said. “Winning one CIF title would have been an a memorable experience, but to be on two championship teams in one season truly was a blessing.”
Medley was seeking a third section title, but the COVID-19 pandemic brought an early end to the track and field season. Medley cleared 5 feet, 2 inches at the two meets she competed in, one of those coming while the soccer team was still in action. She has cleared 5-4 during her career and had her sights set on 5-6, which would have made Medley one of the favorites at the Division 4 finals.
“Track is my favorite sport, so that was very disappointing,” Medley lamented.
Medley is headed to Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina on a track scholarship. She definitely will continue her career as a high jumper, but Medley also has been talking with her future coaches about a competing in multiple events. She ran hurdles and also did the long jump, triple jump and shot put during her time at Linfield, and Medley has entered a handful of heptathlon competitions over the years.
“I’m looking forward to a new challenge and potentially breaking some records,” Medley said.