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Home SPORTS Mele Corral-Blagojevich de Redondo wants to be a face for the next...

Mele Corral-Blagojevich de Redondo wants to be a face for the next generation

One summer day a few years ago, Krystle Corral-Blagojevich came home from work, as usual. She opened the mailbox, as usual. I found a thick envelope from the White House. What?

She was confused because the letter was addressed to her 9-year-old son. daughter.

“I thought, ‘What is…?'” the mother said with a smile.

A few days earlier, Mele Corral-Blagojevich had read a story about the euthanasia of a coyote. Reprehensible for the fourth grader with veterinary dreams. With the help of her aunt, she wrote a creatively punctuated plea for better animal rights to the White House that began, “Dear Mr. President (sic) Obama.”

“I explained to my mom that even though I’m only 9 years old, I can do anything I put my mind to,” the young Corral-Blagojevich wrote.

She has always been eager to use her platform, no matter how small it is. Now in the fourth year of an outstanding volleyball career at Redondo Union High, the passionate University of Oklahoma commit is setting her mind on her own personal brand in the NIL era.

Corral-Blagojevich knows that she is different. He knows that her background, from a mixed family of Tongan, Mexican, and Serbian descent, is one in a million. She knows that she is not the long, thin, white image of a women’s volleyball star. She hopes to make herself visible to the girls who used to be her, girls who may not often see themselves represented on the court.

Growing up, Corral-Blagojevich recalled, her parents told her she had something unique. “Mele Magic”, they called it.

Now it’s the vision for his personal brand, which he’s trying to build through a partnership with athlete consultancy KCW Consulting Group.

“I want to help other people feel that empowerment and help other people realize that they have something special that no one else can take away from them,” she said.

Redondo Union coach Tommy Chaffins was enchanted by that magic from the first time he saw 12-year-old Corral-Blagojevich play, captivated by his powerful swing and competitiveness. As a freshman, he led the Sea Hawks in kills on a team that had 12 players who received college scholarships, Chaffins said.

“I’d say she’s like a chess grandmaster,” Chaffins said. “She sees plays two, three plays before it happens.”

Bigger than her personal goal of winning Gatorade Player of the Year, Corral-Blagojevich is the beating heart of Redondo Union’s circulatory system. Her teammates have said since her freshman year that her presence on the court was “reassuring,” Chaffins said.

“He holds his team,” Palos Verde coach Patrick Lynch said.

She is a catalyst off the pitch, helping to raise more than $1,800 through his club team to help Tonga after an undersea volcano erupted in January.

“She is, without a doubt, one of the top three leaders I have ever coached,” Chaffins said.

It’s a role he loves taking on, both for his team and for a younger generation.

Corral-Blagojevich grew up watching USC games, idolizing former All-American outside hitter Samantha Bricio because of their shared Mexican heritage, she said.

“I was like, ‘I want to be like that for someone else,'” Corral-Blagojevich said of Bricio.

He has felt differently growing up in a skinny sport, from the melting pot of an immigrant family in a sport where college players almost two thirds white. When she was 9 years old, a coach told her that she needed to lose weight so that the club team would take her seriously. When she asked for uniforms growing up and asked for plus size spandex, the trainers would ask, “Are you sure?”

“It was something that could have broken her,” Corral-Blagojevich’s mother said, “but it didn’t.”

He still gets flak today, but over time he realized that it’s okay to be different, and he took flight in volleyball because of it.

“Everyone has their strengths,” he said. “And I think when I’m comfortable with who I am, I lean towards that.”

The unexpected envelope in her mailbox long ago, her mother recalled, contained a letter from former President Obama — well, “President Obama,” her mother quoted on the air — encouraging the young woman to lead in her community. Also, there was a photo of the Obamas’ Labradoodles.

“That definitely helped me open up,” Corral-Blagojevich said, “and feel confident that my voice would be heard.”

Now headed to Oklahoma, she’s ready to share Mele Magic with the world.

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