Kelley Jacome: Chico State’s dual threat


Jason Halley

Chico State Wildcats’ #11 Kelley Jacome (center) spikes against Cal State East Bay Pioneers during the first set of their women’s volleyball game on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 in Chico, Calif. (Jason Halley/University Photographer/CSU Chico)

Chico State senior Kelley Jacome is the latest Wildcat to prove herself both on the court and in the classroom. She was selected to be in Chico State’s renowned business administration master’s program. This will allow her to remain a member of the Wildcats volleyball team in her fifth year at school. 

Jacome is known as one of Chico State’s top volleyball players, but her love for the sport came long before she arrived. Jacome said her mom and sister were her biggest supporters growing up, and that she really learned the game from them.

“My mom and my sister are my biggest supporters that really pushed me to keep going,” Jacome said. “I took playing volleyball from my sister. I always saw her as the coolest person and I wanted to do everything she did.”

A multi-sport athlete in middle school, Jacome realized that she had to focus her attention on just one sport as she advanced to high school. Volleyball became her strong suit, and by the time she reached her junior year, Jacome began to get in touch with recruiters.

During her senior year, Jacome played in a tournament with her club team, and got noticed by former Chico State coach Cody Hein. 

“I had a tournament for my club team my senior year, and Cody Hein, the former Chico State volleyball coach, found me,” Jacome said. “After that, he got in touch with me and he said ‘Why don’t you come over for a visit and see how you like it?’”

At this point, Jacome wasn’t 100% certain of which school she would pick, but her decision was made clear following a trip she took to visit numerous different colleges. 

“Following the Chico State visit, I was supposed to head up to Humboldt to do a visit up there,” Jacome said. “Before I even made it to Humboldt, I committed to Chico.”

This led to three successful years for her in the program, with Jacome getting to start during her freshman year. Jacome reflected on these experiences, saying that she enjoyed every moment of those freshman year starts.

“I think that was a big accomplishment for me to be able to prove myself as a freshman and be able to start with all the older girls,” Jacome said.

Teammate Makaela Keeve, appreciates all of the personal memories she has playing with Jacome.

“I think one of our biggest accomplishments was how our friendship has grown, and how we’ve matured with each other and pushed each other to evolve as people,” Keeve said.

Makaela Keeve hits the ball for the Wildcats in a game. Ryan McCasland – Chico State Sports Information

However, their hopes to finish off their careers at Chico State were in the air when COVID-19 hit last March. Jacome and Keeve both faced losing their final year of eligibility. Jacome’s life was thrown out of rhythm when the pandemic first hit and everything got shut down.

“It was a huge adjustment for my life, from being able to go from class at 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., to going straight to volleyball and weights used to be just a routine day-by-day,” Jacome said. “We didn’t know when we would be able to go back. We didn’t know if it was going to be a month or two, or if it was going to be years.”

As things began to come more into focus, and hopes of a 2021 season became increasingly likely, both athletes had the option of either graduating, applying for the master’s program or picking up a minor. Jacome said she and Keeve ultimately decided together to both apply for the master’s program.

“What made us make that decision similarly was we wanted to have an extra year and also push ourselves academically and make that last year count for something,” Keeve said.

Jacome said that the toughest part about the application process was the waiting. Keeve was accepted into the program two weeks prior, and Jacome talked about how nerve racking those two weeks were.

“It was really hard because the date to turn in the master’s program [application] was March 1 and I didn’t even hear until the end of March. ” Jacome said. “I was finally trying to accept that I wasn’t going to be able to play volleyball anymore and it was really hard.”

But it was worth the wait for Jacome, as she described the joy she felt when she finally got that acceptance email.

“One night my roommates and I were making dinner and I was laying on the couch when I got the email,” Jacome said. “I started screaming at the top of my lungs and my roommates started freaking out. It was really one of those moments that made me appreciate all the lows, because that made it way more worth it.”

Both athletes are business administration majors, and Keeve talked about how they have each helped each other throughout college, and will continue to do so as they get their master’s.

“We both have the same major, we’ve taken similar classes, we wanted to go through something with each other again and help support each other while doing it,” Keeve said. “I would take a class and she would take it after me, so I could help her, or she would take a class, then I would take it.”

Both volleyball players are excited to finally get back on the court and play, and their head coach, Tommy Gott, is glad that they’re returning.

“We have a lot of great upper class leadership,” Gott said. “Of course you’ve got to be excited about that.”

Chico State volleyball head coach Tommy Gott speaks with his team during a game. Ryan McCasland – Chico State Sports Information

The Chico State volleyball team has been waiting a long time for their return, and Jacome can see that everyone on her team is ready to get back to playing. A full return is expected sometime in August.

“It’s been noticeable that everyone’s been dying to get on the court,” Jacome said. “We’re so excited for the season to begin. I’m looking forward to it so much because I can get my life back into a normal routine.”

Jacome said she is ready to go back into the classroom, but knows that the master’s program is going to be a lot of hard work. But Gott has confidence that Jacome will be successful both on the court and in her program. 

“I think she’s focused,” Gott said. “When she sets a goal for herself, she knows what it takes to achieve that goal and succeed.”

Jacome has plenty of goals set for the upcoming season. The main one being her desire to become a captain, with teammate Keeve.

“Going into the season being a senior, I really want to show some leadership skills,” Jacome said. “I would love to be captain with the other senior Mikaela. That would be really fun for the two of us to spend our senior season as captains.”

Keeve set a big goal, to win the CCAA title, and says that she also would like for her and Jacome to step into a leadership role.

“[Jacome] and I have been with the program the longest at this point,” Keeve said. “So we want to be those figures for transfers and freshmen so they have somebody to look to.”

The team is ready to begin their season with new freshmen and transfer students this fall, all hoping to make an impact and to try to make that push toward the conference title. This season, it looks as if the Wildcats have all the weapons they need to accomplish it.

Connor McPherson can be reached at [email protected] or @theGOATMcphers1 on Twitter.