Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Standing Successes Influence Sitting Players

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April, 2016) – If you’re amazed by the athletic achievements of Kaleo Kanahele and Lora Webster, you’re not alone. These exceptional individuals have accomplished something truly unique. Before turning 18, Kanahele led her high school volleyball team to victory in the state championship and helped the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team secure a silver medal at the 2012 London Paralympics. Similarly, Webster, just months after graduating from high school, won a bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Paralympics and played on the silver medal-winning teams in 2008 and 2012.

The odds of reaching Olympic or Paralympic success are slim for the millions of athletes who aspire to compete at that level. That’s what makes the achievements of Kanahele and Webster even more remarkable.

Volleyball: A Platform for Triumph

Kanahele and Webster are not the only players on the Women’s Sitting Team with a background in high school volleyball. Lexi Shifflett, Courtney Baker, Nicky Nieves, Heather Erickson, and Bethany Zummo also played, with Nieves and Baker even continuing their volleyball careers in college. Others, like Katie Holloway and Monique Burkland, excelled in sports like basketball and softball.

For Webster, volleyball served as a path to recovery from osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that resulted in the amputation of her left leg below the knee when she was just 11 years old. Through a procedure called rotationplasty, Webster’s limb was rotated, and her ankle bone was attached in place of the knee joint, allowing her to run and jump once again.

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Embracing Change and Overcoming Challenges

Kanahele started playing volleyball at the age of 10 and joined the U.S. Sitting Teams two years later. Balancing between standing and sitting volleyball presented its challenges, but Kanahele’s determination and adaptability allowed her to excel in both forms of the game.

Webster, on the other hand, discovered that playing sitting volleyball actually improved her standing volleyball skills. By relying solely on her upper body mechanics and platform, she honed her technique and found herself miles ahead of her competitors once she reintegrated her legs into the game.

Although the transition was relatively smooth for Shifflett, Nieves, who primarily played as an outside hitter or middle blocker and participated in track and cheerleading in high school, encountered more difficulties. The speed and reaction time required in sitting volleyball were a significant adjustment for her.

The Road to Rio

Now, the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team has set their sights on the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics in September. After securing back-to-back silver medals in 2008 and 2012, as well as an impressive performance in the World ParaVolley Intercontinental Cup in March, they are considered strong contenders for the gold medal.

Despite their remarkable achievements at a young age, both Kanahele and Webster agree that winning a Paralympic gold medal would be the pinnacle of their careers. These athletes have dedicated their lives to pursuing their dreams, and their journey continues to inspire others to overcome adversity and strive for greatness.

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Q: How did Kaleo Kanahele and Lora Webster achieve success in both standing and sitting volleyball?

A: Kanahele and Webster’s unique abilities and dedication allowed them to excel in both standing and sitting volleyball. While the transition required some adjustments, their determination and adaptability enabled them to succeed in both forms of the game.

Q: How did volleyball contribute to Lora Webster’s recovery from osteosarcoma?

A: After undergoing a rotationplasty procedure due to osteosarcoma, Webster found solace and healing in volleyball. The sport allowed her to regain her strength, agility, and love for athletics, providing a platform for her to thrive in her new reality.


In this article, we explored the incredible achievements of Kaleo Kanahele and Lora Webster, two athletes who have defied the odds and accomplished remarkable feats in both standing and sitting volleyball. We learned about their inspiring journeys, the challenges they faced, and how they overcame adversity to pursue their dreams. As the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team prepares for the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, we celebrate their determination, resilience, and unwavering spirit. Let their stories serve as a reminder that greatness knows no boundaries and that success can be achieved through perseverance in the face of adversity.

For more inspiring stories and updates on the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team’s journey to the Paralympics, visit Alpinetgheep.