By design, Elk Grove's Kandefer stood out in sports and academics

  • Rachel Kandefer of Elk Grove is the Daily Herald Northwest Suburbs' Female Athlete of the Year. She will play volleyball at Harper College.

      Rachel Kandefer of Elk Grove is the Daily Herald Northwest Suburbs' Female Athlete of the Year. She will play volleyball at Harper College. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Rachel Kandefer of Elk Grove played three sports. She is the Daily Herald Northwest Suburbs' Female Athlete of the Year and will play volleyball at Harper College.

      Rachel Kandefer of Elk Grove played three sports. She is the Daily Herald Northwest Suburbs' Female Athlete of the Year and will play volleyball at Harper College. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Rachel Kandefer of Elk Grove is the Daily Herald Northwest Suburbs' Female Athlete of the Year. She will play volleyball at Harper College.

      Rachel Kandefer of Elk Grove is the Daily Herald Northwest Suburbs' Female Athlete of the Year. She will play volleyball at Harper College. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Rachel Kandefer of Elk Grove is the Daily Herald Northwest Suburbs' Female Athlete of the Year. She will play volleyball at Harper College.

      Rachel Kandefer of Elk Grove is the Daily Herald Northwest Suburbs' Female Athlete of the Year. She will play volleyball at Harper College. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 6/14/2019 4:46 PM

As successful as she was at Elk Grove High School, Rachel Kandefer even had her teammates dressed for success.

Kandefer designed the jerseys for liberos in the Grenadiers' volleyball program and for goalkeepers in soccer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

This dedication to her teams was just one of many examples of her dedication to be the best athlete she could be.

And it turned out she became one of the best female athletes to walk the halls of the District 214 school.

In fact, the district was quite impressed, too, naming her the winner of its top honor for a student-athlete, the Howard Lester Award.

Her grand achievements in the classroom and sports arena have also led to her being named the 2018-19 Daily Herald Female Athlete of the Year for the Northwest suburbs.

While earning 12 varsity letters in her four years, Kandefer earned Mid-Suburban all-conference honors at least once in each sport.

"It is amazing in itself that Rachel has been a four-year varsity athlete in three sports, but to also be all-conference in all three team sports, plus all-area in basketball, is something I have never seen before," said Grens girls basketball coach Jen Guth Buxton.

"Rachel not only performs on the court and field, but in the classroom as well," said Elk Grove girls athletic director Jackie Randall.

That record includes a 4.61 GPA from a schedule that is heavily loaded with advanced placement engineering and graphic arts classes (yes, that is where the passion comes for designing the jerseys).

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Kandefer recorded a 1410 SAT score and was a member of the National Honor Society, Elk Grove Magazine, Graphics Club and Advanced Performance Physical Education.

Sports-wise, she started every school year playing varsity volleyball, which she will continue under coach Bob Vilsoet at Harper. At Elk Grove, Kandefer shot up to No. 2 on the all-time list for career kills with 614, trailing only Diamond Boyd (723). Kandefer holds the record for blocks (180), breaking the former mark of 142 held by Becky Jarosch (2003-05).

"Rachel has made an impact on our volleyball program that will be noted for decades to come," said coach Stephanie Kezios. "Rachel is one of only a few front-row players I have ever coached who has played from all three positions consistently."

She also performed admirably for Buxton.

Kandefer captained the team last winter and finished as the program's all-time rebounder and among the Top 25 for scoring. She was second in career blocks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Rachel really stepped up as a senior leader by using her smarts on the court and directing traffic even as a post player," Buxton said. "Her growth through our program was awesome to watch. She is a highly-intelligent student in the classroom and has amazing athletic ability. She is one of a kind and will be dearly missed next season."

Finally, she capped each school year playing on the soccer pitch.

"Rachel was a standout for us," said girls soccer coach Dean Burrius. "What looks like an easy breakaway goal for our opponent gets snatched up quickly by Rachel and, emotionally, those are the kind of saves that rally and inspire an entire team."

Kandefer hopes to one day inspire others as a graphic designer. She took a course in the subject her freshman year and just found it to her liking. As a sophomore, she took dual credit courses with Harper College and her high school. Junior year, she focused more in the photo shop area.

"I like working with computer technology and art," she said. "I like the mix between technology and creativity."

Burrius saw her love for design up close.

"She was an awesome graphic designer," he said. "In Mr. Jay Whalen's course, she designed not only her own long sleeve goalkeeper jersey but those for all of our goalkeepers on our four teams. She also designed an amazing Autism Awareness T-shirt for our school's commemoration this past April."

Kandefer also had designs on attending Illinois State and continuing her pursuit in the graphics design field.

"It's never really been a grind," she said of her four years. "It's fun going from one sport to another. You're enjoying having a new team to play with while at the same time missing the old team. Things like that are what I will remember and enjoying the friendships with all my teammates in every sport."

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