Photo Courtesy of Pepperdine Athletics
Unmatched. Unstoppable. Unbridled.
International Olympic Committee Youth Olympic Games champion Skylar Caputo embraces a zeal for life that can be summed up by those three words.
She’s a Pepperdine Women’s Beach Volleyball star and a two-time All-West Coast Conference second-team winner. Caputo said her faith, relationships, successes and opportunities throughout her life have molded her into the person she is today.
“There is something about the beach volleyball culture — being able to spend all of practice at the beach, play with one other person, have my bare feet in the sand — and always be willing to get one percent better in a sport I love competing in,” Caputo said. “I cannot believe this sport got me into my dream school, the chance to compete in a NCAA Championship and meet so many lifelong friends.”
Caputo received nearly every honor a beach volleyball player can get while serving as co-vice president for the Waves Leadership Council, a small group Bible study leader at Malibu Presbyterian Church and training to tryout for the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Department in October.
Caputo’s ambitions include playing professional beach volleyball on the Association of Volleyball Professionals tour and using her Sports Administration degree and Certificate of Conflict Management to work within the professional sports industry someday.
“I hope to be living back in Manhattan Beach and pursuing a life with the intentions of leaving a legacy behind, a legacy that God has crafted,” Caputo said. “I am passionate about every child having a family: a family that supports, loves and forgives. I hope to give back to the community by mentoring those of broken families.”
Caputo said she wants to help these families because she’s had such a strong, supportive and loving family throughout her life and feels a calling to give back.
“My dad is truly my best friend,” Caputo said. “Without him, I would not be the person I am today. He has always encouraged me to pursue anything: ‘Sky’s the Limit.’ His love for the ocean and for adventure has always kept me on my toes, ready for the next chance I get to participate in some water sport or go up to the mountains. We share so much of life together.”
Interestingly enough, the two people that care for Caputo the most, her parents, met playing beach volleyball. It was destined for Caputo to play the sport.
Caputo values her entire family, including her mother and sister. And this value is apparent in her athletic endeavors as well: Caputo’s best friend and teammate of five years, Jenna Tunnell, sees this undying loyalty and initiative in their friendship.
“Skyler is someone that you can always count on to give 100 percent physically, mentally, emotionally and, as of lately, spiritually as well,” Tunnell, a junior Integrated Marketing Communications major, said. “When she commits herself to something, she’s in it for the long haul despite what challenges she may face because of it. She’s a natural leader but always by example.”
Caputo said she considers mental toughness her biggest strength. When faced with extreme workouts, discomfort and the unknown, she mentally pushes herself through. Even in leisurely activities, Caputo manages to compete against her own standards.
The Huntington Beach native has also been mentally pushing herself to dive into the Bible daily.
“Coming to Pepperdine, I would have never thought I would find Christ my freshman year, get baptized this past February and study the Bible more than my textbooks,” Caputo said. “I am a new Christian. I want to pour God’s love onto those around me and pray that they find their own personal relationship with Him.”
Her faith has impacted her outlook on life immensely. Her identity is in Christ.
“He has created a past, present and future for me and I want to live and breathe every moment of the life He has blessed me with regardless of my flaws,” Caputo said.
Heidi Dyer, Caputo’s beach partner, roommate, best friend and figurative sister said she hopes Caputo will always lead a life centered around Christ.
“If she gains success, that’s great,” Dyer, a junior Integrated Marketing Communications major, said. “But that’s not what I hope for her. I hope that she is continually open to God’s plans for her life because He is the one that is going to make her prosper and take care of her future. I hope she continues to love as God loves her and continues to receive love from all the people who care so much about her.”
Dyer said her love of Caputo is like that of a sister’s and this dynamic allows for them to play incredibly well as teammates.
“All that us beach volleyball players can do is put the time in, commit ourselves to competing at a high level and then just play,” Caputo said. “Enjoy the game regardless of the results. That is what has kept me playing this sport for so long. There is always another tournament to compete in, another chance to fall in love with the game.”
One of these lifelong friends, Corinne Quiggle, met Caputo playing beach volleyball.
“Skylar is one of my closest friends, she is someone I can open up to and talk to about anything,” Quiggle, a senior Business Administration major, said.
Quiggle said she’s traveled with Caputo to play volleyball. One of Quiggle’s most memorable trips was when they flew to Cuba last year to play in a Norceca event. She said she loves sharing these types of experiences with Caputo because it allows for them to perform better as teammates.
“Skylar is so fearlessly honest and genuine,” Tunnell said. “You never have to wonder what her motives are or what she’s thinking because she’ll just come right out and say it. There aren’t a lot of people like that these days.”
Follow Rachel on Twitter: @RRipp_Reporter