Husfeldt sets aside hours

UND volleyball setter receives award for volunteer hours and service.

UND setter Nikki Husfeldt sets the ball last season. File photo.

UND volleyball player Nikki Husfeldt has been balancing hours of volleyball play and travel with classes and homework for several years, and all her years of hard work have paid off.

Recently, Husfeldt was awarded the Big Sky Student Athlete Advisory Committee Outstanding Community Service Award.

“I feel blessed,” Husfeldt said. “I think being a student athlete, you have to learn time management. You learn how to get things done. Talking to professors ahead of time, getting assignments done early before you leave … I actually think it’s to my benefit, and it’s really taught me time management.”

Husfeldt, an Andover, Minn., native, has been playing volleyball since she was in fourth grade, and had to get used to balancing school with playing at an elite level early on in her career.

“I really started playing high-level club volleyball when I was a sophomore, like elite volleyball,” she said. “I’ve played (Junior Olympics) since sixth grade, but I started playing for more of an elite club and traveling across the country my sophomore year of high school.”

Husfeldt lettered all four years of high school and led her team to the state tournament three times. One of Husfeldt’s many academic achievements in high school was earning the volleyball academic achievement award, which was just a precursor for what was to come in her collegiate career.

As an active member of UND’s SAAC as the volleyball representative for over three years, Husfeldt was one of the youngest to be selected as a representative when chosen her freshman year. More recently, Husfeldt was elected secretary and is expected to continue in that role next season.

On top of her hours of practice, travel and homework, Husfeldt has made the time to donate 98 hours to various groups as a part of her involvement with SAAC and its effort to improve communities. She’s spent time with the Grand Forks YMCA, Special Olympics, the SAAC food drive and many other groups — and she isn’t done yet.

When it comes to keeping up a 3.7 GPA while majoring in kinesiology, Husfeldt says she has a good team to study with.

“This past semester we as a team got 3.5,” Husfeldt said. “When we are on the road, we will go down to the lobby of the hotel and study or, in the airports, we will sprawl out and take up sections and quarantine ourselves to study.”

Teamwork is an aspect Husfeldt is familiar with in more than just academia. The standout setter says she doesn’t feel overshadowed as far as performance recognition goes.

“Volleyball is a team sport, and so if the team does well, we all thrive on it,” Husfeldt said. “Everyone has their own stat category. I like looking at where the other setters in the conference are and trying to beat them and that’s my goal and that’s what I look at. That’s where I set my bar.”

Husfeldt set that bar high and has been a key player for North Dakota in more areas than one. She led the entire Big Sky Conference in assists with 1284 in 117 games this past season, putting her at No. 6 in UND history for single-season assists.

She also was sixth on the team for kills with 70 in the season, and was tied for third in blocks with 68. Husfeldt also contributed mightily to the back row, where she dug up 260 balls on defense. To top it off, the setter led North Dakota in service aces, rocketing 23 over the net last season.

“I thought we had a great season overall,” Husfeldt said. “We won the Big Sky, which was huge for us, it was the first team at UND to do so. I think we were all a little disappointed that we didn’t win the tournament as well, but that just motivates us more for next year.”

Next fall will be Husfeldt’s last semester at UND as a setter, but probably not her last at the school.

“I just applied to the physical therapy program, and, if I get in, I’ll have it deferred one year because I can’t do volleyball and physical therapy at the same time,” Husfeldt said.

While she realizes graduate school may not mix as well with college-level sports, Husfeldt remains confident she can do well in other areas of her life while continuing to stay involved with volleyball.

“I think (volleyball) will always be a part of my life,” she said. “Whether I’m doing leagues on a Friday night or maybe coaching, I think it’ll always be there. I don’t know if I could ever not do something with volleyball.”

Marie Monson is the multimedia editor of The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].