Generation to generation: sibling trio competes in Utah Tech athletics

Taela Laufiso, a senior communication studies major; Mya Laufiso, a freshman general studies major; and Kailer Laufiso, a freshman general studies major, are student-athletes from South Jordan. They talked about how they feel about being Division 1 athletes alongside their siblings. Miki Akiyama | Sun News Daily

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From generation to generation, this family isn’t like many others. While some spend time playing board games, the Laufisos spend their time in athletics.

Utah Tech University student-athletes Taela Laufiso, Mya Laufiso and Kailer Laufiso are siblings from South Jordan. Taela, a senior communication studies major, is a setter, and Mya, a freshman general studies major, is a libero on the volleyball team. Kailer, a freshman general studies major, is a linebacker on the football team.

Not only are the children athletes, but the parents are as well. Atina Laufiso and Jessica Laufiso are former student-athletes from Ricks College, now known as Brigham Young University-Idaho, where they played football and softball.

The Laufiso family started off as a basketball family until Taela decided to join the volleyball team during her freshman year of high school. Mya started playing volleyball in fifth grade, while Kailer started football in sixth grade.

Kailer said: “Ever since we were younger, playing sports was always a big thing for us. The goal was to play college sports, not only to play the sport that we love but to also get our schooling paid for.”

Taela started her volleyball career at Snow College in 2019 before she left to serve a mission for her church in Washington. In 2021, she returned to play volleyball at the formerly known Dixie State University, now Utah Tech. Taela graduated in May 2023 with a degree in professional and technical writing, but because of COVID-19, she was able to return to play for another year.

During the same year Taela was returning to Utah Tech, Kailer left to serve a mission in Columbia. On the other hand, while still in high school, Mya and their mom, Jessica, would make trips down to St. George to watch Taela play.

“I liked how she was liking her season, and it felt like where I wanted to be,” Mya said. “I kind of got closer to the coaches as I got older and started the recruitment process.”

Mya graduated high school in 2023, and Utah Tech became one of her top options to continue playing volleyball but at the collegiate level. While Mya was in the midst of recruitment, it influenced Kailer as he made his decisions on where to play. He decided on Utah Tech knowing he would be close to his siblings.

“Family has always been a big thing for us, and as siblings, we’ve always been super close,” Kailer said. “So that definitely played a big role in all of coming here to play.”

Although COVID-19 brought many inconveniences, it did bring the family together for Taela’s last year.

“I think it’s something I never thought would happen just because our age difference is five years,” Mya said.

Even though she is new to the team, Mya sees the potential that the volleyball team has for the season. The women’s volleyball team is currently 4-8 in their season, and for the rest of the volleyball season, the Laufisos are hoping they make it to the WAC tournament.

“We’re making big strides and things we hadn’t before, so I’m really excited [as] the pieces will come together for sure,” Taela said.

Kailer has enjoyed getting to know his teammates, the program and the culture of Utah Tech’s football team. The two losses for the football team at the beginning of the season were a way for the players to challenge themselves and figure out their identity as a team, said Kailer.

“We want to finish on top in our conference and just give ourselves the opportunity to be better every day,” Kailer said. “Give ourselves the chance to…get on the map, make this university bigger and just represent St. George.”

As the Laufisos continue to make their mark in Utah Tech athletics, they reflect on the opportunity they have to play together.

“You know not a lot of kids get the opportunity to play at the college level and also play at the college level with your siblings,” Kailer said. “It’s always been a super big blessing.”