Patty Kerman has been forced to reboot her volleyball career several times during her four years at Westmont College.
She missed the 2018 season after undergoing major knee surgery and then had the start of her 2020 season delayed five months by the coronavirus. COVID issues forced the Warriors’ January’s restart into another hiatus of three weeks.
But nobody will be more ready than Kerman for Thursday’s restart against Hope International. The fourth-ranked Warriors (7-0, 4-0 Golden State Athletic Conference) will play host to the Royals in a doubleheader that starts at noon.
“Her grit, perseverance, being coachable, positivity, mental fortitude, and talent are second to none,” Westmont coach Ruth McGolpin said.
That makeup has also led the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table into honoring Kerman this month as its Scholar-Athlete of the Year for Westmont College. She’s tops on the team in not only attack percentage (.352) and kills per set (3.2), but also in grade-point average (3.92).
“Patty is one of those special athletes,” McGolpin said. “When she came into Westmont, she had that fervor for constantly learning. She was a great listener.”
Kerman, a senior majoring in economics and business communications, won the Golden Eagle Award as the college’s top Scholar-Athlete in the 2019-2020 school year.
She won plenty the previous year, as well: Westmont’s Presidential Scholar Award, NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors, and a GSAC women’s volleyball championship. She helped lead the Warriors to a 31-8 season in which they advanced all the way to the NAIA finals.
“Who would’ve thought that the kid who tore her ACL would be playing in the national championship game a year later?” Kerman said. “Not me.”
But McGolpin learned that season that Kerman can arise to a challenge. Her 10 kills with no hitting errors helped the Warriors earn a 3-0 sweep of Menlo in the 2019 GSAC final. She also led Westmont with 12 kills and just one error, hitting .475, in a defeat to Marian, Ind. in the NAIA finals.
“In the big moments last season, she really blossomed as a player,” McGolpin said. “We won the GSAC championship, and she had the most incredible match there.
“Our team was unranked at the time, and when we went to Sioux City, we came out at No. 2 in the nation, and Patty had one of the best matches of her life against Marian University.”
Kerman, a 5-10 opposite hitter, was Westmont’s leading hitter through the first few weeks of this season. She earned GSAC Player of the Week honors in victories over Vanguard on Feb. 16 and 18. When McGolpin watched the game videos, she was struck by how many times the announcer called Kerman’s name.
“Patty was pretty much unstoppable,” McGolpin said. “Patty was hitting line, hitting deep corners, and hitting the seam. And she did it both days.
“Her confidence has just continued to grow since nationals last year.”
Kerman said Westmont has provided a nurturing environment for her both as a student and an athlete.
“My dad always reminds me of this, and it’s true: Westmont is a truly special place to be,” she said.
“I’ll let you in on a little secret as to what makes this team in particular so special to me,” she continued. “It’s not just because we’re a top group of girls. It’s also because of the great amount of love we share for the sport and for each other.
“This team is like a second family to me. I thank God every day for how lucky I am to have these girls in my life.”
The feeling is mutual, McGolpin said.
“She brings such a light to the practices,” she said. “She’s amazing on the memes. Her teammates just absolutely adore her.
“She has captain-like traits. She’s just one of those special players.”