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Danecdotes: Wangberg continues to pursue passion for volleyball

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PR-B grad Katie Wangberg, left, is in her fourth year as an assistant volleyball coach at Mayville State University, alongside Michelle Warren and head coach Lindsey Johnson. Ron Jacobson / Jacobson Studios2 / 2

Pine River-Backus graduate Katie Wangberg has been around the sport of volleyball for most of her life. If she has her way, that won't change any time soon.

The 2011 PR-B grad transitioned right from playing college volleyball to coaching it and is currently serving as graduate assistant coach for the Mayville State University volleyball team.

"I have been around volleyball forever," Wangberg said. "My mom coached at Pine River for a while and my sister played, so I started going to practices when I was in elementary school. Then I just continued to have good experiences with teammates and coaches."

Wangberg found some success as a member of the Tigers' volleyball team, but remembers her time more for the relationships established as a member of that team.

"We weren't always the most successful, but we always had fun," she said. "The same group was playing together from our sophomore year to our senior year in every sport so we kind of had that connection and chemistry."

After graduating, she played at the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, North Dakota, for two years. She had plans to continue her volleyball career at another school, but those plans took a bit of a side step when she tore her ACL in her second season. Fortunately, one school showed interest.

"No one wanted an injured player," Wangberg said. "At Mayville, the coach contacted (NDSCS's coach) and said she needed a setter. I couldn't just go and play with the team, so she had to take a risk and watch my film. I ended up going there, and it was one of the best decisions I made."

After wrapping up her playing career, she transitioned into a role as a student coach and eventually - and currently - graduate assistant coach. She will earn her master's degree in leadership in physical education and sport in December, but hopes to stay around the team and the sport after that.

"I have been extremely passionate about volleyball, and the thought of not having volleyball was terrifying," Wangberg said. "After my first year at (NDSCS), I knew I wanted to come back and coach. Then things changed when I got to Mayville because I love it here too. It wasn't even a question.

"Once I started, I have not wanted to stop ... I have always wanted to be around volleyball, and this is as close as you can get to playing."

Wangberg admits that the transition from player to coach was a somewhat difficult one at first - more difficult than her jump from student coach to assistant coach - as she knew her athletes perhaps too well.

"I was coaching players that I played with. Transitioning from a student coach to graduate assistant coach has been absolutely perfect. I wasn't too overwhelmed. It was good process, and now I'm in my first year of coaching players that I haven't played with ... It has been incredible, and I can only give the credit to (head coach) Lindsey Johnson. She has given me every opportunity."

In the future, Wangberg hopes to continue working for Mayville State, coaching the volleyball team and perhaps teaching a few classes. She will marry her fiance, Marcus, in June and the two hope to raise their son Loken, 2, in the area.

"I will be in Mayville for a long time. My fiance works at the pharmacy here and we are not going anywhere any time soon. I see myself as a part of (Mayville State). Whatever that means for me, I just plan to coach and be around Mayville State volleyball for as long as I can."

Dan Determan

Staff Writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper.