Dual-sport athletes in high school are commonplace, but in college they’re practically unheard of. However, senior Kara Hess has suited up and served as a team captain for the Bulldogs on both the volleyball and basketball court.
“I spent my first two years playing just volleyball, then in my junior year I played both volleyball and basketball,” Hess said. “After that I decided to make the switch to just basketball in my senior year, and now this is my ‘super senior’ year and I’m playing basketball again, so I ended up spending three years doing each.”
Hess’ passion for multiple sports began in high school, where she stood out in every sport she could possibly participate in.
“In high school I always played the big three sports, which were volleyball, basketball and softball. I always had this really big passion for basketball, but when I got recruited at Ferris I was only recruited for volleyball,” says Hess. “Even though I had a great time playing volleyball, I really missed basketball. During my junior year, Coach Colleen came in and she allowed me to join the basketball team. After that, my heart stuck with basketball.”
The life of a Division II student-athlete can get hectic when they attempt to balance a demanding practice schedule with a full class load, but the obligations are amplified when the athlete participates in multiple sports. Yet Hess, saw her schedule as structured rather than stressful.
“It was definitely a lot of practice time, but to be honest, I think it actually helped to structure my life even more. I knew exactly when I had practice and where I needed to be, and it ended up being one of my best years here at school,” Hess said.
Instead of spending her remaining three years of eligibility playing both sports, Hess opted to switch to just basketball for a variety of reasons.
“I made the switch because I’m the type of person who likes to give 100% to whatever it is that I’m doing, and at that point in my career in volleyball I wasn’t playing a ton and I didn’t want to be that girl on the sideline holding people back, so I committed to giving everything to basketball rather than splitting up my effort between the two,” Hess said.
Being away from the basketball court for so long may have forced Hess to shake the rust off of her jump shot, but experience on the volleyball court may have also given her an edge over her competitors who practice only one sport.
“Having already been a junior and a captain on the volleyball team when I made the switch, I think my leadership qualities and will to work hard carried over easily to the basketball team,” says Hess. “A lot of people think that volleyball isn’t a very tiring sport, but that ball is coming at you pretty fast, so there is a lot of quick motion and footwork involved. So I think my quickness in volleyball helped me out on the basketball court too.”
Hess and the rest of the Bulldogs are currently sitting on a 6-6 conference record and are chasing Northern Michigan for fourth place in the GLIAC’s North Division. They will next see action at home against Hillsdale, who is also 6-6 in conference play. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. in Wink Arena.