North Pole Senior Commits to Nanooks Volleyball

Smith sisters reunite at hometown university
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 10:36 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - One North Pole senior has announced her commitment to continue her athletic and academic career in NCAA Division II volleyball, and it’ll be a family reunion of sorts. McKenna Smith signed her National Letter of Intent to join her sister, Ainsley, at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“It feels really good,” smiled Smith following the signing. “I’m excited. The girls there are already becoming like my best friends and I’ve only known some of them for a couple of months. I’m hoping to learn to play at the level with them and compete with them.”

Her sister, Ainsley, just finished her redshirt freshman season with the Nanooks, and she too is excited to play the sport she loves with her sister once again.

“It’s going to be fun,” Ainsley added. “Everyone doesn’t know what it’s going to be like. I’m excited for it. Our coaches have never recruited sisters before... We had two years in high school, and now we’ll have three more years and that’s going to be super fun. She’s been my best friend for a while.”

It isn’t often when an interior athlete has the opportunity to play collegiate sports with the Alaska Nanooks, but McKenna’s parents are also fond of the opportunity given, proximity to home, and watching their daughters play volleyball together.

“We’re excited for the opportunity,” said McKenna’s father. “I’m excited to see her be challenged and pushed. I’m excited to watch her sister do that to her... It feels good to let her go there. She’s going to have terrific teammates.”

“I would just like to say how blessed we are,” stated McKenna’s mother, Rebecca. “I’m the luckiest mom in the world that I get to watch two of my girls fulfill their dreams of playing college ball at a university court that’s eight miles from my house.”

Coach of the Nanooks, Brian Scott, began recruiting the younger Smith sister at the age of sixteen, which came as a surprise to many, but it has paid off as the Nanooks ink another interior volleyball player to the blue and gold.

The Nanooks finished their 2022 season with an identical, 18-12 overall record as the 2021 season, and Smith will join an up and coming Nanooks program that was loaded with talented underclassmen. Finishing seventh in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, the Nooks will look to build on their youth in the coming years.

McKenna mentioned she aims at potentially filling the roster as a defensive specialist, possibly even a libero. Regardless, Smith is prepared for the next step in her career, and is hungry to continue her volleyball career.

“My final thank you is to the UAF staff and coaches for giving me this opportunity, and I cannot contain my excitement for playing this spring,” ended Smith.