In one of the more storybook-type endings the program has seen, Kansas volleyball’s Mykayla Myers and Reagan Cooper have found their way back onto the same team, just as they began their college careers at Washington State.
For Myers and Cooper, their roots go back to growing up playing club volleyball against each other in the Dallas suburbs.
Prior to committing to Washington State, the two compiled impressive resumés that were the perfect precursor for a friendship fueled by competition.
Cooper found her footing at Parish Episcopal School in Dallas, picking up several accolades during her high school career, including Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools 1-6A MVP, defensive most valuable player in her district, multiple first team all-District selections, and a first team all-State nod.
Myers’ success came during her time with the Texas Advantage Volleyball club with which she earned multiple All-American selections from Prep Volleyball and even a Girls Junior National Championship title.
After their years of competing against each other, the duo joined forces when they committed to Washington State. Just like that, they went from being rivals to teammates to best friends.
“We had played against each other at club, so we had always seen each other from across the net, but we both formally met after we committed to Washington State,” Cooper said. “We went to dinner together, started texting, keeping up with each other just because we were going to be living in a dorm together.”
During a freshman season in which both players received limited playing time, they found a way to grow closer as each other’s support system.
“It was pretty difficult, I guess for us both,” Myers said of their lone season at Washington State. “But I think the good thing that came out of it was that we both had each other. We could support each other, we lived together, we did everything there. I think that made it so much better because we were both so far away from home, and so we got to be together throughout that hard time.”
With their playing time about as limited as their overall stint with the Cougars, Myers became the spark that started the change for the duo. That came around winter break of their freshman season.
“I decided I was going to transfer and Reagan was still on the team at that time,” Myers said. “I just remember telling her, ‘We’re so much more than how they’re treating us. I think that’s what started her decision.”
The two players soon found themselves going their separate ways yet ended up back in a spot that they knew all too well — competing against each other in their home state.
Despite Myers transferring to TCU while Cooper went to Big 12 foe Texas Tech, the bond that developed during their time at WSU only got stronger as time went on, even as the operated as conference rivals.
“Since we had already competed against each other at club, it felt like we were just doing that again,” Cooper said. “We maintained our friendship throughout those years we were apart just because we lived 20 minutes away from each other, and we went on vacations during the summers so it didn’t affect our friendship at all.”
“We just always talked,” Myers added. “We both had different experiences at Tech and with me at TCU, but I think it was a good change for us both and we could help each other out through our entire college career.”
While the two remained close, their individual futures remained uncertain at their respective schools and another transfer soon entered the picture.
The first domino to fall was Myers making the decision to transfer to Kansas for her last year of eligibility. Cooper, on the other hand, was ready to walk away from the game she loved altogether. But Myers wasn’t about to let that happen.
“She wasn’t really sure that she wanted to play, and then she decided she didn’t want to play… I was like, ‘No, that cannot happen,’” Myers said. “I was like, I can convince her to come back and play one last season together, and I was like, ‘This is such a cool experience, like we would never get this anywhere else, so let’s just make the most of it.’”
Eventually, Myers convinced Cooper to join her in Lawrence, and the two recently kicked off their final seasons as college volleyball players with the Jayhawks.
Their addition to the Kansas roster brought quality depth to an already strong lineup. But KU coach Ray Bechard said both players bring more than that to the team.
“I would much rather watch them practice for us than have to prepare to play against them,” Bechard joked. “These two are a ray of sunshine for us. They’re quality individuals, first and foremost. They’re really good volleyball players, but they’re really good people, and when you only have one year left, you want to make sure you add people who are going to add great value. In so many ways, Reagan and Mykayla can do that, so we’re thrilled they’re back together and that we can create an opportunity to coach them, be with them and hopefully create a great experience for their last go-around here for their collegiate volleyball experience.”
As the two begin their final season of collegiate volleyball, the goal has been set: Finish on a high note.
“I knew that I didn’t have the ending that I wanted at Tech, so having another chance to finish off feeling good about my college volleyball experience, that’s my main goal,” Cooper said. “And obviously to make it far, to win, to compete. I feel like this is the right program and place to do it.”
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