Newcomers Arrive as Summer Training Gets Underway

Summer school is in full swing at Kansas State as students have arrived back on campus. Among the students is the K-State volleyball team, which is ready to take the summer as time for work and play.

The Wildcats reported back to Manhattan this past Sunday, and started training for the upcoming season on Monday. While friends may be back home working summer jobs or lounging around, the Cats are preparing for the start of a new season that is quickly approaching.

Summer is the perfect time for any team to build relationships and chemistry, on and off the court. The Wildcats, featuring nine newcomers and only six upperclassmen, will also use the time to bring new players up to speed – literally.

“Everyone is moving [on the court], all the time,” said incoming freshman outside hitter Bryna Vogel, “it’s just a lot faster all the way around.”

Vogel, a product of Clearwater High School in Clearwater, Kansas, is one of six incoming freshmen. Kali Eaken, Devan Fairfield, Makenzie Holcomb and Vogel join early-arrival Kylee Zumach at the start of summer camp. Sami Flattum, who like Zumach is a Minnesota native, will join the team in July.

K-State is really nothing new for Vogel - she is the daughter of K-Staters. The moment of walking on the campus and playing volleyball, however, has not quite sunk in yet.

“It doesn’t feel real at the moment,” said Vogel. “My parents went to K-State, so I grew up coming here all the time, but it doesn’t feel like I am here yet.”

Vogel’s – as well as her fellow freshmen’s – wonder of the new environment is why the summer is so important for student-athletes. It is all about getting the typical freshman items – moving in, orientation, saying good-byes to family and friends, etc. – out of the way as soon as possible so when the season starts in late August, the freshman awe is a thing of the past.

“Moving stuff in, parents leaving, and then the next day, orientation - It was just boom-boom-boom,” said Holcomb about the first couple of days of summer. “It’s moving really fast right now.”

As the first week kicks off, the new life of a student-athlete will eventually begin to slow down for the newcomers. The pace of college – the classes and volleyball – will become the new norm.

The first day of team training sessions was more of a spectator day for Eaken, Fairfield, Holcomb and Vogel. Each of them stepped foot on the campus as students for the first time on Sunday and used Monday to attend orientation and purchase books before their teammates practiced in the afternoon.

“We watched volleyball and weights [on Monday],” said Fairfield. “It was hard just standing around and watching them.”

Tuesday was much easier in some respects, as the freshmen took the floor with their new teammates in open gym. Questions were asked by the newcomers, but they were welcomed by the returnees as teammates provided answers and tidbits of info to smooth out the transition on the first day.

“Today’s practice went a lot better than I expected,” said Holcomb. “I was expecting it to be absolutely horrible, but the girls are really nice. You can ask them any types of questions, and they will help you out. That helped today go better than I expected.”

While the veterans and younger players are taking the weeks of summer to forge new bonds, it’s tough for any of the players, young and old, to think a little bit ahead and picture playing in Ahearn Field House when it counts. The time now is best used to build the road for success.

“I can’t imagine it yet,” said Fairfield, looking around Ahearn Field House, “but I can’t wait to play in here. I love this gym.”