Nikki Kinzer keeps moving forward and upward

Oct. 22, 2012

Jonathan Toman
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In middle school, Nikki Kinzer was “all about basketball.” Today, we can hazard a guess that the volleyball coaches here at UCCS are glad she changed her mind.

Kinzer, a senior majoring in English secondary education, is the middle blocker for the UCCS women’s volleyball team.

Last year, Kinzer was a second team All-Central Region selection, and with a new season, she is again a stalwart in the middle of the court for the Mountain Lions.

This fall, Kinzer was not only named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference player of the month for September, but also the athlete of the month.

Further, she has been named the RMAC defensive player of the week twice this season and was also named to the all-academic first team.

But Kinzer wasn’t always a star volleyball player. In fact, she was cut from the team after tryouts in seventh grade. Once she was in high school, Kinzer took the convincing of a club coach who said he “saw a lot of potential” in her and decided to try out.

“I enjoyed it and starting playing in leagues, and then I really took off after playing JV freshman year,” said Kinzer.

Originally from Rampart High School in Colorado Springs, Kinzer was recruited to play at the University of Colorado-Boulder after graduation. But Kinzer encountered two challenges before the end of her freshman year at Boulder.

“The coach who recruited me left a month before I got there,” Kinzer said. “The main reason I left was because of volleyball. It just wasn’t a good fit.”

She also fractured her leg toward the end of that first season in Boulder, lending to her exit.

“I was on crutches for a good five months,” Kinzer said. “It was especially scary because it was a routine thing, so getting back out there was kinda nerve-wracking.”

Kinzer transferred to UCCS, got healthy and hasn’t looked back. But for this soon-to-be middle school teacher, volleyball is not everything.

“I’m pretty outdoorsy – I’ve climbed two fourteeners – and I love to ski and go camping,” Kinzer said. “I really enjoy camping at Eleven Mile Canyon.”

Regarding the team’s success this fall (the volleyball team is 13-6 through Oct. 13), Kinzer explained that a lot of the credit goes to team chemistry.

“We are vibing really well as a team, and we get along so well both on and off the court. We’re just very well balanced,” said Kinzer. “We have to have every aspect to make the team successful.”

Kinzer and the Mountain Lions will next be in action on Friday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 27 at 5 p.m. as they finish a four-game home stand at the Gallogly Events Center against Regis and Metro State.