Great athletes aren’t born, they’re made. No matter what the sport, it takes a special kind of dedication and special kind of drive in order to succeed in a sport. Athletes have to have the heart, determination, focus, and love for the game they play.
Here at NMU, senior captain Katie Twardzik has just that love for the game of volleyball. Twardzik expressed that she grew up around volleyball but what made her passionate about the sport was something else.
“I’ve always been a gym rat since I was a little kid,” Twardzik said. “My mom coached volleyball since I was in grade school, so I was around the sport a lot. Eventually both my sister and I played for my mom in high school and we spent a lot of time together which I loved.”
Twardzik realized that her passion for volleyball was only going to grow, so she began looking around for schools with a good volleyball program. She was originally going to end up in Oklahoma, but a different path emerged.
“I was originally signed on to play for Dominic Yoder when he was coaching at Cameron University in Oklahoma,” Twardzik said. “Ironically enough, he got a position as head coach at NMU, which was only two hours away from my home. So I was released from Cameron University and re-signed with NMU.”
In it for the long haul, Twardzik began her 4-year stretch on the team as she constantly worked hard not only on the court but off. Twardzik said there were low points in her career, but getting through the difficult times made it all worth while in the end.
“There have been many challenges throughout my career ,and some were very difficult,” Twardzik said. “I did have to deal with injuries and other obstacles in my life, but being able to work through them really made me have a deeper appreciation for my career in the long run, and that alone was worth the experiences, good or bad.”
This year is Twardzik’s last year on the volleyball team, she expresses no desire to seek pro status, but to fully enjoy her last year on the team. She is anxious to get her career goals in motion as many new paths await her after graduation.
“I will be student teaching next semester, hoping to get a teaching job somewhere in the fall,” Twardzik said. “Ideally, I would love to teach high school English and have an opportunity to coach volleyball. I will do as much as I can to stay involved with the sport I love.”
Head coach Dominic Yoder of the NMU volleyball team says that Twardzik will be missed and her shoes will not be easy to fill.
“It will be a very big challenge for us to replace Katie,” Yoder said. “She’s the glue that really binds this team together and keeps the team going. Even though her jersey will be worn by another player and her shoes filled by another player, there’s still only one Katie Twardzik.”
Twardzik expresses how she is excited to pursue her career, but she will miss not only the game of volleyball, but the teammates and friends she made with it.
“I will miss coming to the gym and working hard, and of course playing competitively,” Twardzik said. “Most of all, though, I will miss seeing my teammates every day and just being able to perform in front of family, friends and this awesome Marquette fan base.”
Where one chapter ends another will begin. New players arrive and old players leave. The heart and spirit that Katie Twardzik brought to the NMU volleyball team will never leave, but will echo through the passage of time.