Former Temple volleyball player mentors Owls on and off the court

Kirsten Overton returned to Temple University women’s volleyball program as a graduate manager for the team.

Kirsten Overton (center), a graduate manager for Temple's volleyball team, stands on the sidelines during an Owls' game against University of Maryland on Sept. 3. | KAITLYN JEFFREY / THE TEMPLE NEWS

After playing professional volleyball for three years, Kirsten Overton plans to bring her veteran experience back into Temple University women’s volleyball program.  

As graduate manager, Overton focuses on helping the team behind the scenes, like scheduling practices and game day operations for home and away contests. She also acts as a mentor for the players, having been in their position not long ago. 

“She also has this huge amount of insight into what our lives are like, and it’s always so helpful, just being able to hear from her and get advice on anything that we need,” said sophomore middle blocker Kayla Spells

Head coach Bakeer Ganesharatnam believes her attitude towards volleyball will help shape and mature the young women on the team to become better people, he said.

“She brings instant energy, instant unbelievable work ethic, instant dedication and loyalty with the program,” Ganesharatnam said. “But besides that, I mean, I think it’s great to have her for current student-athletes. I mean she’s close in age with them or at least close enough to relate and she can give them feedback and input that we cannot.” 

She was offered the opportunity by Ganesharatnam to come work as a graduate manager for the team. Now, Overton is excited to have the opportunity to mentor the Owls and experience volleyball from a different perspective, she said.

“It’s interesting, especially to be on the other side of stuff. I mean, so much goes into it that you don’t see as a player,” Overton said. “We’re here so much longer than y’all are, like putting in a lot of work that you guys don’t even see that I didn’t even see when I was a player.”

Ganesharatnam recruited Overton, who is originally from Royersford, Pennsylvania, in 2013 as a middle blocker from Spring-Ford High school, where she broke four school records.

Once she arrived at McGonigle Hall, she started in 18 games during her freshman year and continued to progress in the years that followed. 

Ganesharatnam remembers Overton being a highly-ranked recruit in Temple’s program and, prior to her committing to Temple, she had offers from power five conferences, he said. 

“She was probably one of the most energetic and the most dedicated players I ever coached,” Ganesharatnam said. “She just worked her butt off from the first minute, until she graduated pretty much, and she played with a lot of joy.” 

In her sophomore year at Temple, she played a total of 118 sets for the season and led the team with 108 blocks. In 2015, she was named First-team All American Athletic Conference. 

After graduating from Temple with a media studies and production degree in 2017, Overton moved to Los Angeles, California to participate in a Temple study-away internship program, and stayed in the area for two years, she said.

During her time in California, Overton worked in various fields like video editing and modeling, but she never lost touch with her volleyball passion, she said. While on the West Coast she often played beach volleyball in her free time.

While working in California and figuring out what her next steps were, Overton participated in a volleyball clinic and worked with Olympian Kerri Walsh Jennings, who helped professional players improve and hone in on their volleyball skills. 

She was unsure how far she wanted to take her volleyball career, but initially decided to sign with Rote Raben Vilsbiburg in Bundesliga Süd Frauen League, where she was named Most Valuable Player in her first year of professional volleyball. 

Overton played in the league until she was sent home due to the pandemic.

In addition to her full-time job working for Temple volleyball, Overton is also taking classes full-time at Temple for her master’s program in Digital Innovation and Marketing.

Overton returns back to her home base to build on her role as a teacher rather than a player, and she is excited for this new experience on staff, she said.

“Temple has always kind of been like home,” Overton said. “Like I keep saying this, but that’s really how I feel. That’s why I committed here and that’s why I’m coming back here.”

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