Cole Kaitz made a substantial decision prior to his senior season and he was steadfast in his resolution.
Although there was a strong likelihood the senior would be able to continue his career in college, Kaitz resigned himself to the fact that his final season at Burroughs High would be his last foray in organized volleyball.
“I kind of had a wake-up call last summer with just the whole reality of being a senior and this being my last season in high school and just kind of entering the real world,” said Kaitz, an opposite. “I just decided that sports wasn’t what I wanted to focus on when I got finished with high school
“I plan on attending [Cal State University Northridge] and I want to go into graphic design. …I enjoyed playing volleyball, but for me it was just time to move on to other things.”
The decision by Kaitz wasn’t a complete surprise to Burroughs coach Joel Brinton.
“I knew about his decision pretty early on and his mind was made up that this past season was going to be it for him,” Brinton said. “He told me that he wants to just transition into the next phase of his life and wants to focus on his career. He is just a great, great artist and he’s designed a couple of T-shirts and things for us and they were great.
“I know he could easily play in college and if he wanted he could definitely find a place to play. But I respect his decision and I told him whatever decision he made that I am going to support him.”
Kaitz made the most of his swan song season in volleyball. However, the season provided its share of strife for Kaitz, who battled an ankle injury and missed early matches because of illness.
But Kaitz battled his way back and enjoyed a season of success, which included being named the Pacific League Player of the Year. He was a driving force in helping Burroughs continue its league dominance with a ninth straight league championship.
It is because of his exploits that Kaitz has been voted the 2018 All-Area Boys’ Volleyball Player of the Year by the sports staff of the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader and La Cañada Valley Sun.
“I really wanted to be the go-to guy on the team and I was really looking to start off the season strongly,” Kaitz said. “But the start of the season was pretty tough for me. I have been known for having weak ankles and I sprained my ankle pretty badly and it was a long recovery for me. I would try and go back and play too fast and once I would start playing, it would hurt again.
“It was really hard, just sitting at practice and watching my teammates play and not being able to be out there with them. I was just so antsy to get on the court and I just couldn’t. Then right when our season began I was out for a week with the stomach flu, which was not fun. I missed our first game of the season and out first tournament, so that was tough.”
Once he got back, Kaitz was a valuable asset for the Indians. The senior finished with 234 kills (3.9 kills per set) to go along with 31 blocks. He also had 27 kills in a league match against Arcadia, which was third all-time for kills in a match for a Burroughs player.
“He was just a great leader for us,” said Burroughs senior outside hitter Diego Rosal, who earned All-Area first-team honors. “We knew that Cole was someone who we could rely on every time out. Every day he was positive and he just wanted to bring out the best in his teammates.
“What was also great about him was when we were in trouble or we needed a point we could go to him and he would come through for us. He was our main go-to player. He was just able to handle the pressure so well.”
Behind Kaitz, the Indians enjoyed another banner year in the Pacific League. Burroughs dropped just two league sets while going 12-0. The Indians increased their league winning streak to 65 matches, a string that dates back to 2013.
“It’s always one of our goals to win league, but that is not our main focus every year,” Kaitz said. “It is just a bonus with all the hard work that we put in the whole year. We knew that if we put in the hard work that success is going to come to us.
“It’s just really awesome to be a part of the ninth straight league title. I’m very proud to say I was part of three of those.”
Burroughs, which advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs, ended the season with a 19-9 record.
“Thorough the entire season, Cole just had such a very calm demeanor and he never seemed to get too high or two low,” said Brinton, the All-Area Coach of the Year. “He is always looking to support his teammates and his leadership was really important for us.
“He had a very good ability to handle the bad things when they occurred and help us get over that. I think that he developed such a good skill set and is so good at problem solving in volleyball and that is going to help him in the next phase of his life.”
Since joining the program as a sophomore, Kaitz’ Burroughs’ squads have gone 69-29, compiled a 36-0 record in league, captured three league titles, advanced to the Division II championship in 2016 and won a Southern California Regional title the same year.
“When I came into Burroughs my freshman year playing volleyball I looked up to [former Indians] players like Max Chamberlain, Ryan Van Loo and Andrew D’almada,” Kaitz said. “It’s just an honor to be mentioned in the same category as them and to be one of the top volleyball players at Burroughs.
“All the teams that I played on had such good players. Being able to win a [Southern California Regional] title as a sophomore was pretty awesome and I never would have expected that.”
Now that his competitive volleyball days are behind him, Kaitz said he looks forward to seeing what is in store for him in the next segment of his life.