Living On The Edge

Oct. 30, 2000

By Mike Kreiger

For Washington State volleyball player Trina Kightlinger, life is an extreme sport.

The senior middle hitter from Yorba Linda, Calif., lives her life on the edge. She snowboards, skates and surfs, all of which tell a lot about her outgoing personality.

'I love that lifestyle,' the 6-foot-1-inch Kightlinger said. 'It is really popular in Southern California.'

While surfing is not a very feasible sport in Pullman, it is a staple on the California beaches. Kightlinger has only been a surfer for a few years, but she loves the sport already.

'I started surfing two years ago down in Long Beach,' she said with a huge smile. 'A couple of my friends down at Loyola Marymount surfed. I wanted to do it, so I took some lessons and picked it up. It was a lot of fun.'

Not only is Kightlinger interested in extreme sports, but she is also a formidable volleyball player. She leads the Cougars and is seventh in the Pac-10 with 1.15 blocks per game. Coach Cindy Fredrick is impressed with Kightlinger's play, but more importantly with her leadership.

'Trina brings leadership like a teacher because that's what she is training to be,' Fredrick said. 'She communicates well with people, and she has a good sense of humor.'

A transfer from Loyola Marymount, Kightlinger, who can be seen driving in her black Jetta with 'Trina 8' on her license plates, loves her new surroundings in Pullman.

'I like it here a lot better,' Kightlinger said. 'The community is amazing. The coaching staff here is supportive and so easy to talk to. The girls on the team are great. We have a young team, and it's kind of odd being the only senior on the team.'

Being the lone senior on the team could be difficult, especially for a transfer student, but Kightlinger has made the most of the situation.

'I think it was a huge change for Trina,' Fredrick said. 'It was hard for Trina to make that change at first, especially last year. But I think that it didn't take her long to see all the opportunities she had here at Washington State. The improvement Trina showed has been really impressive. We've asked her to play a position (middle hitter) that she hasn't played in two years. It's a very tough role, especially when you haven't played it in a while. She's worked hard.'

Washington State opened the season with a solid start, going 8-0. As a freshman at Loyola, Kightlinger made it to the NCAA Tournament. She got a taste of success then, and she wants to go back this year as a Cougar.

'We're having a great season,' Kightlinger said with confidence. 'Our goal is to go to the NCAA Tournament. Normally, the top three in Pac-10 will get in. We just need to win six games in the second half to finish at .500.'

A large part of Kightlinger's success has been a result of her family's support. Despite living in California, they still manage to see the majority of her games.

'My mom was at the (Cougar Challenge) tournament and she will also be at my Senior Night,' Kightlinger said proudly. 'My family usually travels to the away games. They go to Arizona, Oregon, and all the California games. I have a family member at every away game. My grandma Barbara, who lives in Palm Springs, makes it to all the games.'

The Cougar coaching staff has noticed the importance of family for Kightlinger and the rest of the team.

'The support that she gets from them is really terrific,' Fredrick said. 'Family is everything to her, and that's one of the things that I like about this entire team. They all have extremely supportive families and the parents are very good parents. As coaches we really appreciate that because it makes for better people on your team and positive support from the parents.'

Although this is her last year of volleyball eligibility, Kightlinger will not graduate until spring 2002. She loves the education program here at Washington State and is eager to enter the teaching profession, especially considering the fact her parents, Rick and Debbi, are both teachers.

'I plan to stay here in the fall,' Kightlinger said. 'Then I'll be a student teacher, hopefully abroad in Australia. I want to teach elementary, probably first grade. Teaching is so needed and available in a lot of places, especially California. If I go home I'll get a job for sure, but I could travel too. I think going home would be nice.'

For Kightlinger, the future is pretty much mapped out. She has her family, her goals, her career aspirations, and of course, her extreme sports.

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