WINDOM -- Super-talented Windom Area volleyball player Katelyn Nichols used to be a gymnast. Today the senior is best known on the hardcourt as a hitter and a blocker, but there really isn’t anything that she doesn’t do well.
Even off the court, she has talents. She’s a self-taught juggler.
It was in the third grade when Katelyn first thought about trying out for volleyball. Her third-grade teacher, Crystal Fast -- who now heads the varsity volleyball program -- put the bug in her ear.
“And she’s like, you really need to try volleyball,” Nichols recalls. “You’re so long. You’d just be good in the front row. And I was like, ‘OK.’ It took me a couple of years, but in eighth grade I just decided that there’s nothing to lose. But I fell in love instantaneously with the game. And I knew that that’s what I wanted to do.”
There aren’t very many outstanding gymnasts around who are as tall as Katelyn. She’s 6-foot, and her height as well as her athleticism has turned her into a big-time middle hitter for an excellent Eagles net team.
Verbally committed to Southwest Minnesota State University-Marshall after her high school career ends, she hopes to become an elementary teacher. Perhaps when she does, she’ll locate a promising grade schooler and point her in the direction of volleyball, too.
Recently, The Globe sports department found Katelyn on the practice floor at the Windom Area High School gym for an episode of The Drill. You can see the video online at www.dglobe.com. Here’s a sampling of the interview:
QUESTION: What do you think you’re best at on the volleyball court?
ANSWER: “I like to think I’m better at hitting, but my coach likes to tell me I’m better at blocking -- which, I do agree with that a lot. Not only getting solo blocks where it hits the floor right away, but just getting that touch where it slows down the ball, so it’s an easier ball for my back row to defend it and get it back up to the setter.”
QUESTION: How does somebody become a great blocker? There’s a lot more to it than just jumping up and raising your arms, right?
ANSWER: “One of the things that I think makes a good blocker a good blocker is being able to read the setter correctly, and knowing that if they’re going to set an outside ball that the balls tend to be a little bit farther ahead of them. And that’s one thing that I’ve gotten more observant of.”
QUESTION: What is the most unusual thing about you that most people don’t know?
ANSWER: “One of the most unusual things that most people don’t know is that I can juggle. And I taught myself how to juggle. Bean bags, I can juggle bean bags pretty well. And I’m getting OK with volleyballs. They’re just too big.”