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A net profit

Erin Boeve admitted there was a daunting start to her transition from the high school level to the collegiate level when she chose to play volleyball at Iowa State University in 2004.

Erin Boeve admitted there was a daunting start to her transition from the high school level to the collegiate level when she chose to play volleyball at Iowa State University in 2004.

"Coming from a small school and stepping into a big university, it was an eye-opener," Boeve said

In fact, it was such a transition that Boeve said some of her classes had as many people in it as her hometown of Steen. Yet, it looks like she's pretty well adjusted now.

Boeve currently is sixth in the nation in blocks and was named Big 12 Player of the Week earlier this month. She has also been tabbed for the all-tournament teams following this year's Cyclone Classic and Missouri State Classic, helping Iowa State to a 13-8 record and a tie for fourth place in the conference with Kansas State.

"I knew ISU was a rebuilding program," Boeve said. "Last year I expected more out of the team. This year, we're turning it around."

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Getting off the ground

The campus of Iowa State University is located in Ames, Iowa, about four hours from Steen. When she chose to go to ISU, Boeve wanted to go somewhere close enough for her parents, Glen and Ann, to follow her.

"They have made a huge impact," Boeve said. "My parents make it to every home match, which is a big deal to me. They have never missed any of my matches."

Both of Boeve's parents have made the trip to Ames for every home match Erin has had. According to Ann Boeve, the duo leaves at around 2 p.m. for a 7 p.m. match, then arrives back at home at 2 a.m. the next day.

As for longer road trips, any place within eight hours have been reachable, but Ann Boeve said she has set a goal of making it to every campus in the Big 12 before Erin Boeve graduates.

"We are always awestruck by the beautiful, huge campuses," Ann Boeve said. "It's great to see their stadium, gymnasiums, and even mascots and recognize the places when watching ESPN."

Before heading to Iowa State, Boeve took part in a tournament with the Southwest Minnesota Juniors volleyball club, going 2-3 times per week to Marshall. Boeve credits the experience with helping her improve her skills in all aspects of the game.

Following the club, though, came the move to her new home of Ames. It would've been very easy for the upperclassmen to shun her and make her transition far less than enjoyable. With the players at ISU, though, that was far from the truth.

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"They're really accepting to me," Boeve said. "I started during the season and it's hard. You're stepping in and taking an upperclassman's spot. You don't' know how they will react, but they were very supportive."

Unfortunately for Boeve, the toughest part came on the court, where Iowa State struggled in 2004, going 8-21 overall, 1-19 in conference play.

That performance ultimately led to the resignation of head coach Linda Crum, who had recruited Boeve to play at ISU.

Changing on the fly

Boeve and the rest of the Cyclones were given input on the new Iowa State coach, and the search quickly focused in on then-Wisconsin Badgers assistant Christy Johnson. It was Johnson who had attempted to recruit Boeve to Madison, Wis., calling her "an elite athlete."

On Dec. 17, 2004, Johnson accepted the job as the head coach at Iowa State, a move Boeve said put her "at ease."

"She's just down to earth, a very good person, easy to talk to," Boeve said of Johnson. "Just a lot of fun to have in the program."

When Johnson was hired at ISU, she immediately knew Boeve was the type of player she could build her team around.

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And, considering Boeve's work ethic, it wasn't hard to believe such a move was possible.

"She's one of the hardest workers on the team every day," Johnson said. "That alone means she will get the most out of herself."

Sometimes more, as there have been instances during practice where Boeve had to be pulled out of the drill because she was "sucking air" according to the coach.

"She's a great model for the other players," Johnson said of Boeve. "When we talk about work ethic and hard work, we talk about her."

Her work ethic has paid dividends this season as Boeve currently averages 1.72 blocks per game (sixth nationally, second in the Big 12) and is eight block assists away from setting a new school record.

"It's exciting for her because she's in an elite category," Johnson said. "Not just (at) Iowa State, not just (in) the Big 12, but nationally."

And, of course, it's not something lost on her biggest fans -- her parents.

"Erin has worked hard on the court but has also made the big transition from Hills-Beaver Creek to Iowa State," Ann Boeve said. "We are very proud of her and her accomplishments."

More than just the sport

Boeve and the rest of her teammates have reached out to the community, helping teach kids to read and making visits to elderly homes in the area, encouraging them to come out and see their matches.

Part of the work also includes kids clinics during the summer and early fall, including one earlier this month that had over 100 participants.

Boeve also has done work previously with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. On one trip to Guatemala in the summer of 2002, Boeve met future Hills-Beaver Creek head coach Kayla Menning, who Boeve now considers a good friend.

On that trip Boeve helped teach her other sport of choice: basketball. She took part in games against national teams and put on clinics for the kids there as well.

Having the experience of visiting Guatemala taught Boeve a lot about not taking things lightly, because they can easily be a lot worse.

"Living conditions down there, what they eat, hot water ... just the little things we take for granted," Boeve said. "It was an eye-opener."

Boeve hopes to go back there again following the end of her collegiate career.

Nothing comes easy

Playing in the Big 12 Conference means facing some of the best teams and players in the country on a nightly basis.

Currently, four of the top 25 teams in the CSTV/AVCA coaches' poll are from the Big 12, including top-ranked Nebraska. The Cornhuskers swept Iowa State early in the season in Lincoln, but the two teams meet again Nov. 5 in Ames.

Playing in the conference helps prepare for the more difficult matches that lay ahead, including both the Big 12 tournament and the NCAA tournament.

"The teams you play night after night are the team's you'll face in the NCAA tournament," Johnson said. "When you play in a tough conference, you're that much more ready for the tournament at the end of the year."

But Boeve has proven she is willing to take on the challenge, and has established herself as one of the best players in the nation. And, to that end, it is Johnson who thinks bigger things could like ahead: like maybe an All-American selection by the time her senior year rolls around, or even the chance to play overseas or for the United States national team.

"If she wants to do that, those options will be there for her," Johnson said.

And if she goes for them, she will go for them with all of the energy she can muster.

For Erin Boeve, she wouldn't work any other way.

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