KWL’s Leiferman reaches three 1K milestones across two sports
KIMBALL -- Kennedy Leiferman has vivid memories of sitting at the end of Kimball/White Lake’s bench at the Huron Arena as a sixth-grade water girl for the state-tournament bound girls basketball team.
It was surreal in the moment.
Once her sixth-grade basketball season ended, she asked coach Tacey Dykstra if she could practice with the varsity team. Leiferman didn’t fully participate, but she was able to run drills with the older girls she idolized.
For a couple of weeks, she got a look at her future, and motivation for what she wanted to accomplish during her career. It also gave Dykstra a peek into the work ethic that’s molded a stellar all-around career across numerous sports.
“That was a very special moment for me,” Leiferman said. “… I just realized at that point, I was able to do drills with this team. It was such an eye-opening experience for me knowing that’s where I could be in a couple of years.”
Kimball/White Lake volleyball coach Sarah Deffenbaugh got her first glance of the uber-athletic, hard-working Leiferman in fourth grade, and from that point, she knew she could be special. Leiferman was tall and had hops that made her a natural hitter, while her softball background helped her get in front of balls smoother than kids her age.
Even then, Leiferman worked hard to perfect her craft. She never wants to be less than what is possible.
“You knew she was going to be something special when she was younger,” Deffenbaugh said. “She was very driven. She was a competitor.”
Being a standout do-it-all 5-foot-11 basketball player, middle hitter on the volleyball team and state champion sprinter works hand-in-hand. The skills from the three sports work together, whether it’s her leaping ability, being fast enough to get to any ball on the volleyball court or the vision as a passer on the basketball court but also being able to spot openings in the defense when going for a kill.
The orchestra of skills has led to many cheering crowds, as well as milestones. Leiferman, a senior, reached 1,000 points (1,217) on the basketball court last year. In a week span in October, she also recorded her 1,000th kill (1,053) and 1,000th dig (1,024).
She has a career-high 288 digs this season to go with 322 kills. In basketball last season, she averaged 19.3 points (443 points) and 10.8 rebounds per game (249 boards).
“She puts in more time and more effort of her own individual time than probably any other kid I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach,” Dykstra said. “She holds herself to a really high standard, and she wants to be the best.”
Leiferman is a self-proclaimed goal-oriented person, so she set a goal to reach the volleyball milestones this year.
She takes the most pride in her scoring and kills milestones due to reaching 1,000 points as a junior and the inability to get multiple kills in one rally. Getting a kill is also more team-oriented than digs, as she ended her answer saying, “I’m trying not to make this all about me.”
“In both sports, our teams are very talented, so I knew they’d help me reach those goals,” Leiferman said.
She’s always been a standout hitter who can effectively mix up her shots, though she started her varsity career as a back row player as a freshman. Her speed and ability to read the opposition helped her get to balls, which has helped her rack up digs despite transitioning back to a middle hitter as a sophomore.
Even as she’s expanded her game in both sports, Leiferman’s biggest asset the last two years has been as a leader. She provides the younger girls with model work ethic. But with the hope of providing the same inspiration and leadership that former players showed her, she’s stepped outside of her box and become a more vocal leader, too.
Her mom, Cassi, has always told her to push everyone to be their best self. So, that’s what she’s done.
“Even as a senior now, I try to help those younger girls that are playing in the seventh and eighth grade year just to make an impact on them,” Leiferman said. “Those older girls ahead of me made an impact on me.”
For all the points she’s scored and games she’s swayed in the WiLdKats’ direction, her leadership has stood out as much as anything she’s done on the court.
“That’s made her a more complete player to add the vocal leadership component to that,” Deffenbaugh said. “She had all the athleticism and she had the skills that she developed, now she added the leadership to it. That just made her an all-around complete player.”
Dykstra added: “She grew a lot as a junior in the leadership category. But this year as a senior, she kind of embraced that role and came out of her shell a little bit. … She really let them know she’s there for them and invested in their success also.”
Kimball/White Lake finished the regular season 14-5 and sits second in Region 6B. Leiferman also has basketball and another track season before she graduates.
She hasn’t decided her next move after high school. But whatever she chooses, it’ll be done with maximum effort. It’s the only way she knows how.
“I know there’s no such thing as perfection, but I can always push myself to be the best I can be,” Leiferman said. “I just don’t want to settle for anything less than I can do.”