Athletes following in parents footsteps impacts performance in sports


Luke Miller

Jessica Pickett has played volleyball for 11 years. Pickett said her mom has influenced her and helped her find her love for the sport.

Katie Maurer

When senior Jessica Pickett started playing volleyball about 11 years ago, she was following in the footsteps of her mother, Cassy Pickett, and she said she discovered a sport that bound them both together. 

On May 16, Jessica announced her commitment to play volleyball for Valparaiso. Jessica said she’s excited to play there under Valparaiso’s Head Coach Carin Avery. Jessica’s mother shares the excitement and looks forward to seeing Jessica’s Volleyball career advance. 

Mrs. Pickett said, “I love the way [Carin Avery] coaches and works with the girls, and during our recruiting process it was very exciting that she was interested in Jessica, but also she talked about things that she liked about Jessica and things that she saw she could work with Jessica on. It was exciting for me to know that there’s a coach who was going to work with her right out of the game.” 

Jessica isn’t the only child who has followed in their parents footsteps and played their sport. Lebron James Jr. and Zaire Wade, the sons of basketball players LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both played basketball at Sierra Canyon School. Bill Elliott’s son Chase has become a professional stock car racing driver just like his dad.

Jessica said, “When I was younger, I kind of just started. You know how when you’re a kid, you kind of just play sports?” 

She said her mother started coaching her team and fostering her love of volleyball in many ways, like practices at home and attending games. 

“We have a net we can set up in our backyard, so we would always do that or like hit against the garage, just practice all the time,” Jessica said. 

Mrs. Pickett said she was happy to see her daughter’s interest in the sport.

Mrs. Pickett said, “When [Jessica] was old enough to start playing, we started working with her, got her into Carmel Dads Club and I started coaching her. That’s how it all started. I was very excited for her. Obviously I love the sport, so it was exciting to me that my kids wanted to learn how to play also.”

Jessica’s experience of discovering volleyball differed from her mother, who didn’t start playing volleyball until her sophomore year of high school when the volleyball coach approached her and asked her to play. 

Mrs. Pickett said, “So I started learning volleyball my sophomore year in high school, not knowing anything about volleyball, never touching a volleyball before, and [the coach] taught me everything I needed to know. I just kind of fell in love with it.”  

Mrs. Pickett went on to play volleyball at Ball State, whose Volleyball hall of Fame inducted her and her team Mrs. Pickett’s senior year. She was also named MAC player of the year as a senior. 

“I’m pretty sure we went undefeated for two full years in the conference so we had a really good team, a really strong team,” Mrs. Pickett said.

While playing volleyball in college excites Jessica, she said she also has her concerns. 

“I might be redshirting it, it just depends,” she said. “It’s hard to start as a freshman.” But her mother said she has high hopes. 

Mrs. Pickett said, “Jessica wanted to take and blow my records out of the water. I would love to see her do that. I want to see her go to Valpo and develop her game and flourish and get so much better at volleyball. By Katie Maurer

Caroline Just