Dec. 3, 2012
At any time, nearing the end of a long journey can be both a sad and joyous occasion. For Nikki Kinzer, her senior year as a volleyball player has ended.
A few weeks ago, Kinzer and her teammates played their last match of the season. Now, after lengthy evaluation among coaches, Kinzer has been named RMAC Defensive Player of the Year.
“Defensive player of the year for us as a staff is a validation of all her hard work,” Keith Barnett, Kinzer’s long-time coach, said. “For UCCS, it means we as an athletic department have come a long way and still have a ways to go.”
“I can’t stress enough the fact that it’s a reflection of the team,” Kinzer said. She emphasized that it is the combination of block assists and other players that help earn points for the entire team.
“The awards I’ve received this year are a total reflection of the people who have pushed me every day at practice. You’re playing against each other, so that’s going to make you better,” she said.
In regards to her future, Kinzer plans to focus on her career as a teacher. “I’m a secondary teacher, so I’ll either be teaching middle or high school,” she said, adding that she is currently applying for the licensure program at UCCS.
To become a teacher, it is a requirement to observe classes in schools. Kinzer has chosen to observe at Doherty High School under her favorite teacher, Deb Pierce.
“I’ve been blessed with really good English teachers,” she said. When asked if she would like to coach, Kinzer said, “I’m not going into teaching to coach … I believe in teaching because I like English. I want to make kids passionate about English.”
Regarding Coach Barnett, Kinzer admits that both of them are sad about her transition out of sports and into teaching.
“We have a special relationship. He’s been my coach all the way through school,” Kinzer said. “It’s been tough the past couple weeks.” She explained she was around when Barnett proposed to his wife and that everyone is like a family.
“She’s been wonderful to coach,” said Barnett. “To get recognized by the coaches in the conference as the most dominant defensive player of the year is a great accomplishment … Hopefully we will build on the success of this season into the years to come.”
Even though Kinzer will no longer be a member of the UCCS team, she hopes to remain connected to her teammates and coaches as she pursues her career as a teacher.
She and her fellow volleyball players will have a small get-together within the next week to conclude their time as teammates.