Before every match, Megan Kruidhof sits in the locker room and listens to “Put Your Record On” by Corinne Bailey Rae. After pumping herself up, she walks into the stadium with her shoelaces untied.
This is a pre-game tradition she said she created on her own. Once Kruidhof gets on the court, she ties them up, ready to lead her team.
The junior outside hitter grew up in Lakewood where she was surrounded by athletes. Her father Ron Kruidhof played professional basketball in Europe, while her mother Teri Kruidhof was a track and field athlete.
Athletic genes flowed through her family, but before picking up a volleyball Kruidhof tried other sports such as softball and basketball.
“I was terrible at softball and then very bad at basketball,” Kruidhof said. “My parents pushed me to play volleyball because I was tall and could jump.”
The 5-foot-11 Kruidhof was excited to play after watching videos of her idol and former 49er player Misty May-Treanor play on the beach. When Kruidhof was 11, her parents took her to Whaley Park to join a youth volleyball league.
“Parents were the coaches voluntarily and it was very bad volleyball,” Kruidhof said.
Nonetheless, she was hooked and ready to step her game up. By the time she was at Lakewood high school, Kruidhof would be named a two-time All-CIF first team selection and a four-time All-Moore League selection.
Coming to play for LBSU was easy for Kruidhof because she had always been close by. Last year she didn’t get many starts, and mostly played in the back row. But because many of the outside hitters have been injured to start this season, she had to take a more offensive role.
“Stepping up into this new role has developed my game into something I never had thought I could have,” Kruidhof said. “I’ve become the go-to person, and its matured me a lot.”
Kruidhof currently leads the team with 192 kills, more than double the amount of kills she has had in her first two years combined. She has also racked up 89 digs and 30 blocks to start the season.
While Kruidhof describes herself as serious and very competitive on the court, her personality off the court is goofy and outgoing.
“Both of my personalities can merge together at times, but when I need to be serious and focused, it’s easy for me to lock in,” Kruidhof said.
Being one of the longest tenured on the team, Kruidhof has become a natural leader for the team. But when it comes to being a vocal leader, she tends to shy away from it.
“I feel like I haven’t earned a true leadership position, but if I have to lead, I take it upon myself to do so,” Kruidhof said. “I consider myself more of a show by example kind of leader.”
She expressed her love for previous head coach Brian Gimmillaro, but has found herself preferring new head coach Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer’s coaching style.
“Brian was more about being very technical, while Joy is about getting the ball up and hustling,” Kruidhof said.
She feels a lot closer to many of her teammates and sees that there is no divide between any of them. In past years, she recalls teammates being grouped together and excluding others. She credits a lot of her early success to senior setter Alexis Patterson, who has given her all the opportunities to grow this season.
“Megan is a great teammate and person, she’s loyal and brings such a positive attitude to the team, she’s always the one I know I can go to if I need a laugh,” Patterson said.
Once the season is over, Kruidhof will focus on beach volleyball and continue to study child development. She hopes to be a kindergarten teacher one day, but hopes to play overseas before that.
“Something as simple as hitting the ball is what really makes me love the sport,” Kruidhof said. “Being around the girls and the environment keeps me going and I know I won’t ever leave volleyball.”