Kazia Gainer has earned four state volleyball championship rings as a Lady Pirate at Sneads High School.
The 18-year-old senior will soon graduate there, but she’ll have opportunities to add more bounty to her Pirate’s treasure chest: She signed Friday to play on the Pensacola State College volleyball squad. They’re Pirates, too. Her signing ceremony was held at SHS. She gets a full-ride scholarship at the two-year school in exchange for her signature.
PSC volleyball coach Jennifer Belarmino said Gainer caught her attention as she watched her play in state high school tournaments. “Coming from a state championship team, she’s knows success and how to handle it,” Belarmino said. “She’s very competitive and she will add that spirit to our court. She can play middle and right-side hitter, so she’s got versatility,” Balarmino continued, adding that her new player is also good in the classroom, where she currently maintains a B average.
A video package of the player’s game highlights helped further her confidence that Gainer might be a good fit on the team. Her visit to campus sealed the deal. There, both Gainer and the coach said, it was clear that Gainer had found her next home court.
Gainer said the welcome she received from her soon-to-be-teammates was warm and genuine. “I like it because it’s close to home, and, when I went there to try out, all the girls welcomed me. It felt right.”
She’ll start practice with the PSC Pirates the first day of August, with a three-week camp before the next season starts.
Gainer said she’s grateful for the chance to play at the college level, and says her mother played a key role getting her motivated.
“My mother… if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I am today. She really encouraged me to get up and start playing seriously. I’d probably still be on the couch right now, if it wasn’t for her,” she said.
“In my ninth and 10th grade years, I thought basketball was going to be my sport, but then I decided I wanted to play volleyball. I’m happy and can be myself, and more of a leader on the team.”
Gainer’s coach at SHS is Heather Edge and she also played under the leadership of former SHS coach Shelia Roberts and later in Roberts’ volleyball camp program in Tallahassee.
Gainer is also finding her way on that side of the ball, too: She’s a volunteer coach for the Grand Ridge recreation league’s volleyball team. Before that, she’d coached the Tee-ball set as a volunteer as well.
As for her classroom pursuits, Gainer is going after a two-year degree in physical therapy at Pensacola, and potentially a four-year degree in the field, when she graduates there and moves into her junior year.
She is the daughter of Monique Glass and Darryl Gainer.