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She keeps on truckin'

Kristi Langworthy expects her knee injury to be merely a temporary setback, and she plans to return soon to volleyball and her pickup.

By FRANK PASTOR
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 13, 2002


BROOKSVILLE -- Sure, there is the pain, the trouble of getting around on crutches and the matches she has missed.

But for Kristi Langworthy, the worst part of the knee injury she sustained Oct. 2 against Central is that it's keeping her from driving her low-rider truck.

"My truck's a clutch," Langworthy said, "so I'm not going to get very far with that."

Know this about the Hernando senior: She enjoys volleyball, in which she is coach Dena Frye's only four-year starter. Langworthy has tied her future to softball, receiving interest from Pasco-Hernando Community College, Warner Southern and Florida Southern.

But she lives for her truck, a 1998 Chevy S-10 extended cab that she lowered and rigged with rims, a speaker system and neon lights.

"That's my hobby," Langworthy said. "I enjoy it. If I get a paycheck or something, I go spend it on the truck."

Langworthy, an outstanding setter and consistent server, was putting together a career season before the injury. She had 122 assists, more than 100 digs (double her total from last year) and a serving percentage of 100 while helping Hernando to victories in nine of its first 12 matches, including all eight at home.

"She's like the quarterback on the volleyball team," Frye said. "Out there on the court, she never gets down on herself or the team. She's my captain this year. She's a big leader."

Langworthy injured her knee when she collided with a teammate while going up for a block in the final game of the Leopards' three-game loss to the Bears. In typical fashion, she finished the match before going to the hospital for X-rays. An MRI on Monday revealed a sprained lateral collateral ligament and meniscus. She missed three matches but returned to practice Friday and expects to play Tuesday against Seven Rivers Christian.

"That (doctor) told me I was very lucky," Langworthy said. "If I would have torn something, I'd have been done. That'd have been it."

Langworthy learned the importance of caring for her vehicles from her father, Alan, who drove fast cars when he was younger and received the same lessons from his father.

Langworthy can fix tires, change oil, do tune-ups, install speaker systems, put on rims -- anything to get her truck back on the road. She bought "Girly Girl Racing" stickers, license plate covers and an amp on ebay, and is saving money for a television and PlayStation 2 for the inside of her truck.

She once fixed a speaker system for a co-worker at the Golden Corral, where she is a server.

"What was wrong was, the power cable from the battery terminal that was hooked to his amp wasn't screwed on all the way, so I just went out there and fixed it," Langworthy said. "He had no idea what I did until I told him."

Langworthy drove a Jeep before getting her truck last Christmas. With time to spare before a volleyball practice, she took the Jeep "mudslinging." Afterward, she had to clean the drive shaft and showed up at practice caked in mud.

"She's a little tomboy," Frye said.

Langworthy's outdoor interests extend beyond mudslinging. She has fished most of her life, and has gone hunting with bows and guns for two years. Though she has seen several deer, she hasn't had a clear enough opportunity to shoot.

"You don't know many girls that would go hunting, sit in a tree stand for hours and just look at animals go by," Langworthy said. "It's just something I enjoy."

It's a lifestyle Langworthy is reluctant to leave. She plans to play college softball, preferably at a small school in Florida. In time, she hopes to return to Hernando to teach physical education and coach softball and/or volleyball.

"It's just something I would enjoy," Langworthy said. "Even though it wouldn't be a high money-making job, I'd rather have fun at my job and enjoy it than go to a job that I don't even like."

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