Carly Kan: From munchkin to Mizzou

Freshman Carly Kan has 304 kills for Missouri, which brings its undefeated record into a Friday showdown with Florida Courtesy Missouri Athletics

You might think a shooting star is that awe-inspiring celestial body you see shooting across the night sky. To Carly Kan, who hails from Hawaii, a Shooting Star is a cast member in productions at a theater dubbed the Broadway of the Pacific.

Throughout her childhood, Kan, a freshman defensive specialist on the undefeated Missouri women's volleyball team, was singing and dancing at Honolulu's Diamond Head Theater. She was a member of the Shooting Stars program, a group of Hawaii's finest young actors, singers and dancers ages 7 to 17.

"Carly was very shy when she was little, so I wanted her to come out of her shell," said Carly's mother Linda, who signed her up for an audition for Diamond Head's production of "The Wizard of Oz."

The audition was a success, and she was cast in the production as a munchkin. From there, she became engrained in the Shooting Stars program, singing and dancing in significant roles with headlining solo acts in some of Hawaii's most notable theater productions.

"I really grew by being on stage and became less and less shy," Carly said. "Singing and dancing always put me in front of big crowds, and I got more comfortable and confident with people watching me."

By the third grade, she was a social butterfly on the playgrounds, lapping her friends on the monkey bars and competing with others in her new passion: tetherball. Linda remembers this phase vividly. Carly would beg to go to school an hour early to play tetherball with her friends before classes started. To avoid the early morning wake-up calls, Linda got a tetherball set at home, and it wasn't long before Carly was beating her dad and her brother.

Naturally, volleyball seemed like a good fit. And while she kept performing in the Shooting Stars program, she also joined club volleyball teams. At age 12, she won a USAV Girls' Junior National Championship with the Jammers.

"That's when her volleyball really took off," Linda said. "It wasn't about just being athletic anymore, it was about her loving the game and enjoying how to learn about the game."

By the time Carly became a sophomore at Punahou (Honolulu), volleyball had consumed her life. She made a difficult decision to give up her Shooting Stars commitment and focus on the volleyball recruiting process. This led her to Missouri, where, even as a freshman, she plays an integral role on the Tigers, who enter a Friday night showdown against No. 4 Florida ranked sixth in the country.

"I really have grown to the point where I'm not shy anymore," Carly said. "I really love playing in front of a bunch of people now."

Anyone watching Carly play volleyball would never guess that she used to be introverted as a child. They won't see a girl who, while her friends were running around together at a birthday party, would sit quietly in the corner on her mom's lap.

"My goal for her was always to just have some poise and self-confidence," Linda said. "To me, she has gained so much since being that shy little girl. The Shooting Stars program drilled into her to always keep her head up and always smile, and when she's on the volleyball court now, you can tell that she still has that smile and still has that poise."