Prairie's Hannah Kinnison shows that Division I volleyball talent is littered throughout Colorado

(Kevin Saffer/MaxPreps)

A stigma sometimes exists in high school sports that if an athlete wants to play their sport at a high level in college, they must play at a big high school.

Prairie's Hannah Kinnison is just another example that talent can be found anywhere. It doesn't have to be concentrated in the biggest schools of the biggest area.

The actual town that Prairie resides in has two "official" names. Legally it's known as Raymer. The United States Post Office lists the town as New Raymer.

Regardless of what name it goes by, the town is small. Population as of 2010 was 95 people. That number had estimated to have grown to 105 by 2016.

But as of October, the one thing that was clear was that the town contained Division I volleyball talent.

"It has always been my dream to play D-I," Kinnison said. "I decided early that I was going to work my butt off and just do it. I started working, playing a lot and getting in the gym."

Kinnison stood out in a big way in her first two years on the Mustangs' roster. She totaled 789 kills in 156 sets played.

In her freshman season, Kinnison helped Prairie advance to the semifinals of the Class 1A state tournament before losing to eventual champion Fleming.

Although the Mustangs fell off a bit in 2017 — going 13-12 and not advancing out of districts — Kinnison still shined on the court.

She had better kill numbers (411 to 378) and her hitting percentage remained consistent (about 23 percent both years).

She didn't log any time of the floor for the Mustangs in 2018 after tearing her ACL. The injury cost her a year of competition which is something that can be difficult for a teenager trying to both enjoy the game she loves and find her way to the collegiate level.

"It was painful and one of the toughest things I've ever gone through," she said. "I think mentally it makes you so strong. It might've been better for me in the long run but at the time, it killed me."

Last October she announced her commitment to the University of San Francisco making her the eighth Division I commit out of Colorado. The other seven come from schools that play at a 4A level or higher.

To someone like Kinnison, however, that means nothing. It's not about where someone goes to school as much as it is about the work they're willing to put it. If they invest in themselves, reaching their goals become much easier.

"I really think anybody can do it," she said. "Of course you have to have talent, but if you don't work at it you're not going anywhere."

Now back to full health and with her college choice made, Kinnison is looking forward to getting back on the court with the Mustangs for her senior season.

She clearly remembers the joys that came with successful seasons and is looking forward to sharing those moments again with her friends.

"I'm looking forward to playing with the girls in my class," she said. "We have a good senior class and there are some younger kids that are super athletic. I'm just hoping to be a leader for them and be a good role model and hopefully lead them to state."