Life is a Beach
Phoukhom Keovilaysane served in the Royal Lao Army and fled to a refugee camp in Thailand after the end of the Laotian Civil war. It was in the camp that he discovered a new passion, Volleyball. That passion would follow Phoukhom to the United States. His son Sai Keovilaysane recalls playing with his father, “As a kid growing up, we would play with him and the Lao community in our town recreationally”, said Sai. Phoukham dreamed of seeing his granddaughter Kaila play but she didn’t want anything to do with the sport. “Kaila always thought it was too girly to play until the 8th grade”, said Sai. To the delight of her grandfather Kaila decided to give it a try and signed up for her first season of club volleyball. Sadly, Phoukham would pass away before she played her first game. Phoikhom may be gone but the Keovilaysane name is making its presence known both in the gym and in the sand.
Kaila played volleyball at Porterville High school where she left he mark on the program. Despite having much of her high school career disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic she was named All-East Yosemite League Volleyball first team multiple times and closed out her junior year with 248 digs and 113 service receive passes.
The dusty Central Valley town of Porterville may be about 150 miles from the ocean but that didn’t stop Kaila from finding a spot on the roster of one of California’s top junior college beach volleyball teams. Kaila joined the San Diego Mesa College Olympians in 2021.
With athletic competitions returning after a long Covid shut down Kaila made a strong start to her college career. The Mesa Olympians were crowned Pacific Coast Athletic Conference champs and advanced to the state finals in 2022. If only her grandfather could see her now.
Kaila, who is of mixed Lao and Filipino ancestry, traces her Lao roots to Banh Kiengkok in Savannakhet province.
About this Article
Information for this article comes from the Porterville Recorder, Mesa College Athletics, and from the Keovilaysane family. Photos are courtesy of the Keovilaysane family and photographer Nicole Noel.
Last Updated: May 18, 2022