Prep Athlete of the Year: Cydney Eskew, Kelly Walsh

Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 4:28 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Kelly Walsh saw a ton of success with their girls teams this year, from breaking playoffs droughts to winning state championships.

Cydney Eskew played a major role in both bringing back a volleyball state title Kelly Walsh, as well as helping the Lady Trojans basketball team back to the state playoffs after not being there since 2019. Her volleyball stats this season were nothing short of outstanding, as she made setting up her team mates for kills this season look easy, ending the year with 867 assists. She capped off her year with 61 kills, 40 blocks, 119 digs, and a serving percentage of 93.4%. When the ball fell her way, the Lady Trojans were in good hands, as out of 1,822 times the ball fell her way, she only made 23 errors.

It wasn’t just her volleyball play that helped her stand out this past year, but she also led the Lady Trojans to their first playoff appearance in basketball in 4 years. She led Kelly Walsh in points scored, amassing an exact 200 on the year, and she averaged 10.5 points per game. That amount made her a top 5 scorer in the 4A conference this year. She also lead the team in 3 pointers as well, and she was also top 5 in the conference in 3 point percentage.

Below is a transcription of Nick Paniagua’s interview with C.J. The interview has been edited for content and clarity.

Nick Paniagua: When I looked at like the teams that you were on, you were obviously a major contributor to them, especially for volleyball. I feel especially being in the setter position, it’s sometimes overlooked because it’s not you making the kill. So what drew you to that position?

Cydney Eskew: I actually started out as an outside hitter when I was in elementary school, and one of my coaches said, ‘hey you have really good hands,’ and so I was like, ‘oh okay, I’ll try that.’ So I’ve done that for a long time and then when I got to the high school level, Barkell was like, ‘hey you’re a good setter, let’s let’s go with you.’ So that’s kind of what we did and I’ve loved it ever since.

NP: How did you get into volleyball?

CE: Actually, it was my mom. My mom was like, ‘hey you should try this out,’ and I was like, ‘no that’s a girly sport.’ I didn’t want to play that cause I was playing basketball before and she was like you should just try it. I tried it and I just continued on from there.

NP: Remembering, you signing day, it seemed you were having a bit of a tough time deciding between volleyball and basketball. So, you know, it’s kind of funny, looking at it now, you did end up going with volleyball. What would you say would be some of the reasons that you decided to stick with volleyball?

CE: One of the reasons was, I did get better offers for volleyball. I did also have a knee injury last year and I figured volleyball is a much less impact sport than basketball, and so I just decided to go with that. I loved both, and I was very torn between the two, but volleyball is such a fun sport and it makes me have a lot of joy when I play it, more joy than basketball, so I thought I would go with that.

NP: Growing up, obviously you’ve been into sports, basketball, volleyball. Were there any other sports?

CE: I did track in high school a little bit, and I did soccer when I was really young. I believe that’s it, I just did track and soccer where my other two main sports that I did.

NP: What would you say drew you to sports in general?

CE: Just the competitive side of me and I just think they are a lot of fun. You make really great friends, and I’ve made some friends for life. I believe there will be more to come when I go to Chadron, so that’s kind of why I like it.

NP: Some of your volleyball stats are absolutely crazy. I honestly couldn’t believe you only had 23 errors off of what felt like what looked like countless times (1,822 to be exact) you actually got to handle the ball. How do you do it? How much work did you put into volleyball to get to be where you’re with it today?

CE: I put a lot of work in like the offseason, so like during this time like I do a lot of running and a lot of like skill work with my hands and I just try and be consistent as I can be because obviously no setter can truly be perfect. You kind of just have to get in that mindset, on how to work hard and, even though you’re going to miss a few, it’s still going to be a good set and you’re still going to be able to get the ball to to a hitter so they can pound it down.

NP: Who would you say would be the most influential people on your love for sports in general?

CE: I would say my parents, and obviously all my coaches and the kind of big D1 athletes that I’ve watched when I was growing up, they kind of were, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, those guys are so cool, I want to be like them.’ So that was kind of a big thing and all. Also my parents pushed me really hard and my coaches, and I’m so grateful to all of them.

NP: So how much like like just going back to the offseason, you know, running, like trying to stay in shape and stuff like that, the amount of discipline it obviously takes to be one of the best in this state. How would you say that affected, your play in sports?

CE: In general, it’s made me a better athlete and person because I feel healthy when I run and I feel very motivated to do certain things like I set goals for myself every year and I think that could just continues my life to keep getting being successful and continuing my journey.

NP: Going on to the topic of goals, what would you say was like your goal heading into this past year?

CE: Definitely a state championship for my volleyball team. My basketball team, I really wanted to be a key player this year and I definitely accomplished that, I would say and just making great friends and lifelong teammates, friends and just amazing memories.

NP: I wanted to touch on basketball for you because you did lead Kelly Walsh in points per game and three points by the end of the season, and there weren’t really high expectations for Kelly Walsh. You had a new coach coming in, but at the end you guys did manage to actually make the state playoffs, so how did that feel like? How big of an accomplishment did you feel that was?

CE: It felt amazing because last year we kind of struggled a little bit with the basketball team and I feel like once I committed to volleyball, I had a weight off my shoulders and so I could really perform basketball really really well. I just want to thank God and all those coaches that came in this year to really help us accomplish that, because that feeling was amazing and where I left the program, I feel really grateful for that I could have been a part of it.

NP: Would you say that you left a program in a better state?

CE: Yes, I believe we, my senior class definitely left the basketball program in a way better place than what it was, and I was super, super grateful to just be a part of the whole thing.

NP: Now you’re going into college playing volleyball at Chadron State, so what would you say is your goal going into this year?

CE: I’m just working hard and earning my spot because I know in college it’s not just going to get get it handed to you. You got to work hard and so I’ve been working hard this whole summer to kind of earn that spot and earn that place on that team and I’m very grateful for the opportunity that they gave me to offer me to go play for them. So I’m going to work my butt off as the main goal.

NP: And now my final question is what would you say is your big picture and goal for your sports career?

CE: I would say just, making great friends at Chadron and also there’s like a player of the year I think there too. I would like to accomplish that and like get as many assists as I can to help the team and, I don’t know, just really work hard. I don’t really know what’s out there quite yet, but I know that I’ll accomplish it if I set my mind to it.

NP: Alright, CJ again congratulations and what an awesome year this was.

CE: Thank you so much for this. Opportunity of course.