In sports, players are going to go through their share of ups and downs. That’s just a given. Through all of the wins and the losses, the good individual performances and the bad individual performances, not to mention everything else that is going on in their lives, it can be quite difficult to maintain a steady temperament every single day.
That goes especially for college athletes. They have to deal with a variety of transitional factors, such as leaving home for the first time and adjusting to a higher level of play.
It’s rare to find, then, an athlete that is able to keep his or her emotional outlook at a consistent level from day to day. That person is going to be able to help others who are feeling down or not mentally focused by talking through practical solutions or offering an anecdote from his or her own life. A lot of the time, just that athlete’s presence is enough to help others find a more positive state of mind.
Jordie McGregor is that kind of athlete.
The Wenatchee Valley College sophomore volleyball player is, in the words of coach Kelly Ketcham, “the person that everyone else leans on without them even knowing it.”
That’s a bold statement, indeed.
“Jordie comes to practice every single day in the same competitive, ready-to-go mindset,” Ketcham said. “She’s just not subject to mood swings. Generally she has a (positive) disposition. It’s a long season, and there’s stress and school and things like that, and I know that everybody has become dependent on Jordie being consistent in that way. One of the things that I told her at the beginning of the year was, ‘Jordie, you’ve been the rock of the program for the last two years.’ That’s a big deal.
“She’ll go to a player if she sees that her head is down, or exhort them or put courage in them. I think that steadiness that’s always there is one of those things you don’t notice until it’s gone. It’s been vital to us.”
McGregor, the Knight’s starting setter, is able to maintain a consistent focus partly because of her natural leadership skills. She displayed them during a decorated career at Cascade, and she’s displaying them at WVC, where she’s one of just three sophomores on this year’s squad.
She’s always been a motivated, driven person with a passion for the game and a desire to hold herself accountable for her actions.
“I’ve always wanted to be a leader,” she said. “That comes with expectations. Being on the court all the time (as) a setter, I’m involved in every play, so leading has always kind of been something that’s been an expectation for me, even going through high school. I like having the pressure and expectation of leading.
“I don’t like disappointment. That was always self-motivation for me to be the best I can be and reach my goals.”
McGregor developed her love for the game thanks in part to her aunt, Cascade coach Marni McMahon. The two are very close; McGregor lived with McMahon in Wenatchee last year, in fact.
“She’s been (so) important to me,” McGregor said. “I wouldn’t be the player that I am if it weren’t for her. She pushed me past my limits. She expected so much from me, and she didn’t ever treat me differently than anybody else. If anything, she always expected more. She taught me how to be a good teammate and good character. I think that was the most important (lesson) — to be competitive, but also be a great teammate.”
“We’re super-close family-wise. She’s basically (another) parent. But on the volleyball court, you’d never know. Our relationship on the volleyball court and our relationship off the volleyball court are totally different.”
McMahon said, “She was a like a second coach on the court. She was in a harder spot because she was my niece, but she was a natural leader. She’s a great talker, and she’s got great chemistry with her teammates. She was born that way, and fortunately she’s been able to bring that to athletics.
“Jordie, to me, is like (another) daughter. That’s the way I look at her. I’m very close with her, and very proud of the person she’s become.”
McGregor would hang around Cascade’s practices when she was younger, take bus trips with the team, and was a manager for several years before joining the program as a freshman.
Those experiences have allowed her to develop into a savvy, intelligent player.
“She’ll know, for instance, if the opponent’s middle hitter is staying with our middle hitter instead of going to block on the outside hitter. She sees it happen,” Ketcham said. “She’s also usually pretty good about picking out a corner to go to and dumping into the middle of the court. It’s great that she came (to us) with so much experience.”
McGregor hasn’t decided yet whether to continue her volleyball career after this year or not; she’s thought about playing at a small four-year program, but if she doesn’t, the lifelong animal lover will most likely head to Washington State University to pursue a degree in veterinary science.
“Part of me wants to get a jump-start on that, because it’s going to (take) awhile,” she said with a laugh. “Ever since I was little, it’s kind of been my dream job. I kind of shied away from it a little bit, but this year I came back to it (and thought), ‘This is what I want to do.’ I love dogs. I love all animals, but dogs are my favorite. We’ve always had a dog in the house.
“It’s taking me so long to consider the options (because) it’s going to be hard to give up the sport.”