West Australian teenager Ky Landers is a rising Beach Volleyball star for Australia but it could have been oh so different.
At just 16, Landers sporting talent is undeniable. A talent that comes from his rich family history but not in Volleyball, rather Rugby League.
Ky’s grandfather was Bob Landers a giant striding winger and a point scoring machine for both the Eastern Suburbs Roosters and Penrith in the 60’s, while his father Kurt also played first grade during the 90’s for St. George and Penrith.
For Ky, turning his back on a future in Rugby was a tough decision, but one he just had to make at only 14 while in the Western Force Junior Gold Squad.
“I dropped out of that because I got offered a chance to try out for an Australian spot with the Beach program in Adelaide.”
It was a risky move and one that didn’t work out for him at the time.
“Unfortunately I didn’t get in, I was fifth picked. That’s just life.”
It’s that positive, never say die attitude and competitive spirit that Ky credits to his famous grandfather.
“I never met him but I definitely think I inherited a bit from granddad. I’ve always been competitive, I hate losing.”
Bob Landers passed away at just 56, five years before Ky was born, but that hasn’t stopped them having a relationship, especially when Ky is competing.
“I have felt his presence. My Nan says poppy is with you. I know I feel it.“
Nan Elaine was a gifted athlete herself and deserves to take some credit as well for passing on the excellent sporting genes.
Despite the family history in Rugby, Ky says he’s never had any pressure from his dad to follow in the family footsteps.
“Dad has never pushed me, it has always been my choice and he will back me no matter what path I choose”.
And that path for Ky since age 11 has been about Beach Volleyball and representing Australia.
“I’ve always loved it. I love the scene. I love the environment”.
Volleyball Australia pathways director Nam Pham has been taking keen interest.
“Ky has talent in both Beach and Indoor actually, he’s a great mover, fast, agile and a great defender.”
But for Ky his preference is Beach and he’s prepared to do whatever it takes.
“I have been offered scholarships twice for Indoor but I’m hoping to get one from SASI (South Australian Sports Institute) for Beach, finish school, go
there and see what happens.”
Just this weekend Ky, through his Mum and Dad, funded his own trip from WA to Manly to compete in the NSW Open, to gain experience and to be seen by national
Ky after a random message from Queensland teenager Brad Sting teamed up to be the youngest team in the NSW Open.
“I gained a lot of experience. I was coming up against bigger and better opponents and that improved me. I enjoyed the challenge.”
That level of commitment also didn’t go unnoticed by Volleyball Australia.
“Fantastic to have someone so young so committed to travel across the country from WA to Manly. Ky’s got lots of potential.” said Pham.
The support of Mum and Dad has been the key to Ky reaching that potential.
“They are what got me here today, they’ve always supported me, got me to everything, they’ve paid for everything.”
“Volleyball costs a lot to play to send your child somewhere. I’m very grateful to them.”
Remember the Landers name but this time it’s Ky. You may well be seeing more of him in the green and gold on a beach near you.