Hello all! It appears that this will be my last diary entry as a New Mexico State University athlete on the volleyball team. Even though my eligibility is exhausted, in my heart I will always be a player no matter what! I’ll give you a little insight on the things that have unfolded in the last few weeks…
It was the Saturday before Thanksgiving. We left Las Cruces early in the morning and flew to Las Vegas, Nevada. And can I say that I just love the flight attendants on Southwest Airlines. They are so bright and chipper very early in the morning. There was one flight attendant in particular who brightened many people’s faces. As he got on the intercom of the plane, he specifically told everyone to look directly into the eyes of someone seated next to them. He then said, “Repeat after me, I wish.” There was a slight murmur of voices throughout the plane. Then you hear him again, “People, please just repeat after me, I wish.” Again, there was a slightly louder murmur of voices. The flight attendant cleared his throat, “People, don’t be shy and speak up, repeat after me, I wish.” Finally a distinctive number of voices spoke the words “I wish.” The flight attendant then finished the sentence by saying, “I wish, when you looked in the mirror, you were as pretty as me.” As everyone repeated the words, there was an eruption of laughter. What a funny and playful way to start off your day after a warm cup of coffee! It just made me smile.
After we arrived in Las Vegas and finished practice we went to the hotel to check in and freshen up for the conference banquet. And must I say, every one of the girls on the team looked absolutely stunning! We all looked, sharp and utterly beautiful. If you’ve attended any of our matches this year, I’m sure you would have walked right past us in the hallway and never realized who we were. Congratulations go out to Erin Birmingham, Whitney Woods, Kelsey Brennan, Jennah DeVries, and Kayleigh Giddens who all received awards that night. Way to go girls! I’m so very proud of you!
On that Tuesday, we played against Boise State, and we won in three games. It was a battle to the end, but we had a wonderful group of people who came to support us. I couldn’t have asked for a better crowd. On Wednesday night when we played against Hawaii for the WAC Championship, I was very proud of our fans. They held their own, and gave that stadium a lot of crimson color. Thank you so much to everyone who made that trip to Las Vegas. You definitely made my last conference tournament a memorable one.
The trip also had a few surprises in store for us as well. We were able to see two past assistant coaches who made the trip to see us play. Ashley Hardee, head coach at the University of North Dakota, won his conference and then turned around and flew to Las Vegas to be put to work on the radio as Kyle Doperalski’s comrade. Debby Baker, head coach at Southern Utah University, made the trip with her husband Jon Baker and son Logan. I might also add that Logan is adorable and has grown so much since the last time I saw him. But it was great to see and visit with them again. Another great visit was from past teammate Amber Simpson who currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada after graduating from NMSU last spring. Sam Wasson also made it, and I’m glad to see that hasn’t turned into a popsicle yet, since he has made the move to Alaska.
We made the flight back to Las Cruces on Thanksgiving Day, only to turn right back around and fly to Fort Collins, Colorado the very next morning. A few of the girls were able to eat a thanksgiving dinner at Coach’s house that evening, which was thoroughly enjoyable. Most of us have never been to his house, and it was nice to see the personal side of coach, instead of just the man in the gym.
Fort Collins is a beautiful town, there was snow in the distance on the Rocky Mountains and Canadian geese eating the grass on the football practice field. Now that’s not a sight you get to see everyday in Las Cruces! But it was an enjoyable trip, in which we came out victorious. Colorado State University won their conference, the Mountain West. They were a worthy opponent, and we definitely had a lot of momentum during that game. It was a bright day for us as a team. Many family friends were able to make it to that game as well since Ellen Miks’ and Jennah DeVries’ home towns are nearby. Some of my family friends came from Des Moines to watch the game. I was glad they were able to finally see me for the final game of my volleyball career.
It still has yet to sink in… I’m finished. It’s over. Where did the time go? It absolutely flew by! I never fully realized that the trip to CSU was my last trip. I never fully realized that I will never warm-up with my teammates again. I never fully realized that I have to clean out my locker now. I never fully realized that I must put my volleyball gear on the shelf and hang up my jersey. It still hasn’t hit me.
Krista Altermatt’s mother told me, “Well Kelli, this will probably be the last time I see you, other than maybe Krista’s wedding.” WOW!!! Am I really that old? Let alone, is it really truly done? (By the way, Krista is not engaged, that was just a future probability of an event I might be attending someday) I’m so used to seeing Krista and Erin’s parents on a regular basis over the last few years. They came to various games and cheered us on as loud as they could. But that statement was like a reality check. Erin’s parents said something similar, that the invitation was an open one; I could come see them anytime I was in Missouri. I truly hope that one day, a door will open in my life and I’ll be able to take them up on their offer.
Over the years, I have met many terrific people through NMSU volleyball; there are too many to count. It has been an experience that has enriched my life forever, and I will always hold a place in my heart for the people I have worked with and encountered throughout this journey. But this has been a closing to a great chapter in my life, and I look forward to the challenges and wonderful experiences that await my life in the chapters to come. I just hope that in the future, I will one day be able to repay everyone for their kindness and generosity that they have shown me throughout the years. They will never be forgotten.
So with this, I say goodbye. To my past and present teammates, you have taught me lessons in life and on the court; you have opened your hearts and showed people the types of friendship that cannot be broken from the stresses of time. To the fans, you are so very loved and make NMSU a wonderful experience to be enjoyed and cherished. To the coaches, you have not only made us stronger, but wiser. You continuously give of yourselves and only ask for hard work and effort in return, you have been an inspiration. To my family, you have been the support system that goes beyond the call of duty; I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you. Thank you to everyone, thank you for a wonderful four year career as a New Mexico State University Volleyball Athlete. As we say in Las Cruces, hasta luego, adios, farewell, (as Tigger from Winnie the Pooh would say, “TTFN” (Ta Ta For Now)), which all leads to… goodbye.