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Once Gabby Curry Makes Up Her Mind To Do Something, UK Freshman Does It

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All-American freshman Gabby Curry says even when she visited other schools, she would think about UK. All-American freshman Gabby Curry says even when she visited other schools, she would think about UK.
Gabby Curry, front left, comes from an athletic family. Gabby Curry, front left, comes from an athletic family.

By LARRY VAUGHT

Being part of the highest ranked recruiting class in Kentucky volleyball history has brought attention to UK that freshman Gabby Curry certainly welcomes.

“Our freshmen have a lot of accolades. To me, accolades only add pressure because there is no underdog thing,” said Curry, a three-time all-state player in Georgia and two-time state Gatorade Player of the Year. “I enjoy the pressure and think a lot of us enjoy the pressure. The higher expectations need to be there because we are going to achieve that.”

Curry helped Buford High School win two Class 5A state championships and was an Under Armour All-American. Yet deciding to play for coach Craig Skinner at Kentucky was an easy choice.

“I just found myself at other schools and on other visits thinking about Kentucky. That’s when I knew this was my home,” Curry said.

She’s from an athletic family. Her grandfather, Jessel, played basketball at Kentucky on the 1953-54 team that went 25-0 but chose not to play in the NCAA Tournament because Frank Ramsey, Cliff Hagan and Lou Tsioropoulos were ruled ineligible because they had already graduated.

Her father, Buddy, played college football at North Carolina — he faced UK in the 1976 Peach Bowl and 1977 regular season — and then played eight years with the Atlanta Falcons. He was the 1980 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and two-time all-pro pick at linebacker.

Wait. There’s more. Her oldest brother was drafted out of high school by the Cincinnati Reds. Another brother originally committed to play football at Virginia and then went to Auburn. Her youngest brother now plays football at Georgia Tech — and was on last year’s team that beat UK in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

“He just broke his ankle, and that was a heartbreaker for us all,” she said.

Gabby Curry has already managed to do one thing her three older brothers didn’t. She maintained a perfect 4.0 grade-point average in high school despite graduating a semester early so she could enroll at UK last January.

“All of them had the ability to have a 4.0 but never really tried to do that. I think from the beginning of sixth grade my parents were pushing all A’s — and I had always had all A’s — but I kind of took it under my wing to make it an expectation,” the Kentucky freshman said. “It was not pressure from my parents but more pressure from myself.

“Through high school I kept a 4.0, and that was my goal. Going into college I was like, ‘Hope I get it, but I don’t really know.’ I am going to 100 percent try to do that. It’s just time management. I played three sports in high school, so time management was a big factor then. It’s been a lot easier here.”

But the main motivation was showing up her brothers?

“Absolutely. I do everything to show my brothers up. A lot of people say I am a combination of each of my brothers. They are each good at something but it’s nice that I have a little bit of everything,” she said. “My parents are really pushing for being an all-around person instead of just being an athlete. The academic people (at UK) are really helpful in making that happen.”

Her father says the pursuit of a 4.0 GPA was no surprise because Gabby, who played on the USA Under 20 team, is that competitive in everything and expects to excel.

“She always wants to be the best. I have seen her do things that top athletes will just do when a game is on the line,” Buddy Curry said. “When she gets her mind made up to do something, she will flat get after it. If she had been a boy, she would have been a football player. She doesn’t mind being physical and mixing it up.

“She is a lot like me. Tell us what the bar is and no matter how high it is, we’ll get over it. Her senior year in high school, she went to a local junior college and took six classes that would transfer to UK (as credit). Not everybody is willing to pay a price like that to keep straight A’s, but she did. She is totally focused on what she is doing and does not have a lot of time for herself. Her maturity level is just off the charts. She has just always handled herself very well.”

Kentucky opens the season with two home matches Friday — 11 a.m. against Arkansas State and 9 p.m. against No. 23 Utah — and one Saturday — 7:30 p.m. against Cincinnati.

Kentucky is once again ranked in the top 15 of preseason polls and with the return of two-time SEC Libero of the Year Ashley Dusek, 2016 SEC Freshman of the Year and third team all-American Leah Edmond, and terrific middle blocker Kaz Brown to go with the No. 5 recruiting class, Curry is not about to shy away from national championship chatter.

“There has been a lot of publicity saying we (the freshmen) are coming and taking over the team. We are here just to give our support. If our support is to lead the team to a national title, then that will be our job,” Curry said. “We would like the headlines to be more focused on the team than just our group but we are ready and are really competitive. We are all different but it works together really smoothly.

“When I first committed, I went on a visit with all of them (the freshmen) and I think the first thing we were talking about is that we could really win a national championship. Obviously, that is our dream but it will take a lot to get there. We have had a bunch of coaches and advisors come in and give us some feedback and tell us if we keep working, we could do this and that’s what we intend to do.”

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