The Student Newspaper of Murray State

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Keep your head up: Dacia Brown’s support staff

Dacia’s mother, Kelly, roots on her daughter at Murray State’s game against Austin Peay. (Blake Sandlin/TheNews)

Story by Maggiann Ackerman

Staff writer

[email protected]

Senior Dacia Brown has excelled in her final season on Murray State’s volleyball team, but she couldn’t have gotten to where she is now without the support of her family.

Believe it or not, Brown actually discovered volleyball late in life after realizing basketball and cheerleading weren’t her calling.

Kelly Brown, Dacia’s mother, was the first to introduce the sport of volleyball to her daughter. Unwilling to let her daughter sit around all day, Kelly encouraged Dacia to try out for the Memphis Junior Volleyball Association club team when Dacia was in sixth grade.

“When I started club volleyball, most of the girls I was playing with had already been playing for years,” Brown said. “I’m super competitive, and I don’t like being super far behind everybody. So I wanted to be as good as those girls I was watching.”

Her mother’s guidance, as well as positive collegiate role models in the sport, were the biggest contributors in Brown sticking with volleyball.

“I was also coached by girls who played in college, so that was a huge motivator for me, I knew I wanted to play in college and be as good as them.”

When Dacia was in high school, her family welcomed a new member to the family with the birth of her brother, Landyn. With the new addition, Dacia began to worry her parents wouldn’t have the time to spend with her.

“As I got older my little brother came,” Dacia said. “Things had gotten a little rough at home, so I was worried when he was born that my family was not going to be able to come to my games.”

However, the exact opposite happened.

“It made my family closer than ever,” Dacia said. “We traveled together, and our car rides were the best. I definitely miss that. I love knowing that I’m going to see them every home game because we’re all so close.”

Knowing she had a strong support staff behind her, despite her family being pulled in multiple directions, enabled Brown to see just how lucky she was.

Dacia was nervous to reach out to college coaches despite knowing she wanted to continue her volleyball career after high school. If it wasn’t for her mother’s persistent attitude of emailing and talking to potential schools, her daughter’s dream of playing at the collegiate level may have never come true. Murray State might have never come to know the name, Dacia Brown.

“After things fell through with another school, I was kind of discouraged,” Dacia said. “My old club coach reached out to the coach at Murray State. He came and watched me play in a high school tournament, we spoke over the phone and next thing I knew I was on a college visit. I loved the coach and Murray State was so close to home. I was sold!”

While college can sometimes prompt families to grow more distant, Dacia and her mother were an exception. When Dacia arrived at Murray State, she and her mother grew closer than ever before.

“We’ve gotten to that level once I got into college, that she has become my best friend,” Dacia said. “When we talk on the phone every day for a minimum of 45 minutes, we talk about everything.”

Kelly Brown stands and flexes after her daughter scored a point against Austin Peay. (Blake Sandlin/TheNews)

An obvious topic for the two’s conversation was her collegiate volleyball career, as well as how she dealt with being redshirted her freshman year.

“Originally when she called, it was always something like, ‘I’m homesick, I want to come home, and the initial shock of being redshirted as a freshman,’’’ Kelly said. “It kind of sent her into a volleyball depression because she wasn’t getting to play at all and that was not something she was use to.”

After redshirting her freshman year, Dacia was hungry to play but a different obstacle prevented her from being able to live up to her full potential once again.

“Her sophomore year she would call us throughout, but then she got injured just before the season started,” Kelly said. “Then the calls were more of trying to keep her in the right frame of mind. She was two years into college by this point and she still wasn’t able to play volleyball the way she loves to play it.”

As a junior Dacia was finally healthy and eligible to play. The conversations signaled a much happier tone from Dacia as she began to find her footing as a Racer.

“We’d joke around about what was going on at home, she would tell me about the event she was going to that night, everything was sunshine and rainbows, everything was lining up for her,” Kelly said.

The close connection Dacia has with her family, however, is not limited to just digital communication. Despite a two-hour commute from Memphis to Murray, the entire Brown family piles in and drives to each of Dacia’s matches. The show of support isn’t lost on the senior outside hitter.

“It’s very comforting having my family present,” Dacia said. “I don’t know if anyone notices, but if I make a mistake or start to get down, I always look over to my mom. Even when I’m back serving, I look over to them, and I can always hear my mom’s voice stand out from the crowd’s. I don’t know if that’s because she’s my parent, but no matter what, I’m always in tune with her. I can always hear her.”

Senior outside hitter Dacia Brown looks to her family in the crowd during the Racers’ game against Austin Peay. (Blake Sandlin/TheNews)

Comprising a small portion of the Brown crew is Dacia’s little brother, Landyn. The 5-year-old has not missed one of Dacia’s games since her senior year of high school. Their sibling relationship is just what you’d expect, defined by love and a little bit of humor.

“It would be nice if he cheered for me, but he cheers for Rachel Giustino instead,” Dacia said. “It’s great to see him and have him here because I miss him. It’s crazy to think even though they are only two hours away, I start missing him as soon as my family leaves.”

Landyn has been alongside Dacia the whole way, watching as she led the team in blocks (2016), was second on the team in kills with 259 (2017), Pepsi Athlete of the Week (2018), and was named to Saluki Invitational and New Orleans Invitational All-tournament teams (2018).

Being away from home has changed Brown’s relationship with her father as well.

“My dad likes to make jokes because he likes to think he’s the funny one in the family, but his jokes are always about me,” Brown laughed. “We have a really good relationship; he supports me, he listens, he’s always there for me.”

Dacia could not be more thankful for the overwhelming support system she has been blessed with during her years with the Racers.

“I love them and I’m so grateful that God chose me to give to them,” Dacia said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

More to Discover