‘Bigger than just volleyball’

Kayce Lilly, far left, stands with her volleyball team during their 2018 season.

DALLAS — When Kayce Lilly and the volleyball team at Dallas High School set out to make quilts for Liberty House, a child abuse assessment center in Salem, she made sure to keep it quiet because she didn’t want any recognition for it.

“She is always looking to do something for someone else in any way she can,” said Hailey Van Well, a junior at DHS, and one of the volleyball players who helped make the quilts. “She never does it for the attention, just purely for being kindhearted. She made it a big point that we do this for the Liberty House kids and not do it for attention for ourselves. I’m sure she does way more than what I even know about.”

On top of being the head volleyball coach, Lilly is also a counselor at LaCreole Middle School, and knows some of the kids who have gone through Liberty House. She got together with the volleyball team in October and helped them make quilts to give to the kids when they come to Liberty House.

“We (the volleyball team) try to do some kind of community service activity every year,” Lilly said. “We chose Liberty House because they support and serve the needs of kids up to age 18, so I think it was more meaningful for our volleyball kids. Whether they realize exactly who or not, almost all of the girls on our team know at least one person who has gone to Liberty House for various reasons. Making blankets is a small thing for us to do, but can provide a great comfort and feeling of safety when kids have experienced traumatic events and are having to have difficult conversations reliving their experiences.”

Lilly went to Astoria High School, and was a three-sport athlete in volleyball, basketball and track during her time there. She attended Western Oregon University and Oregon State University for college.

During her first year as head volleyball coach in 2017, the team made it to state for the first time in 27 years. This year, they finished sixth in state.

DHS Athletic Director Tim Larson says part of the team’s success is because Lilly goes out of her way to bond with the team, on and off the court.

“Plain and simple, Kayce is a huge supporter of all kids; she will be the first to step forward to help a kid, especially her volleyball team,” Larson said. “She cares so much about them as people. She goes the extra mile to build relationships with them, and they genuinely know she cares about them.”

It doesn’t matter if she’s interacting with her volleyball team or a child at LMS, Julie Jansson, a colleague at LMS, said Lilly cares only about making a positive impact in those lives.

“Everywhere she goes she leaves her mark as a young lady that loves kids and supports them through laughter and the giving of her time,” Jansson said. “She is the school counselor right here at LaCreole and adored by staff and students alike. She is quiet and kind. She is patient and always willing to listen to students no matter the issue small or large.”

Lilly doesn’t see donating quilts as a big deal; she just wants to make sure that she imposes her attitude of giving to the girls she coaches; she wants them to understand that they’re part of something more than just sports.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to practice what we preach and remember that what we’re doing is bigger than just volleyball.”

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