Set up to excel
Kelsey Reibsamen had the best seat in the gym when she watched her two older brothers wrestle for the Greenwave.
With her father, Matt, as Mitch Overlie’s right-hand man during duals and tournaments, Reibsamen spent her time recording stats of every match during the winter season. From fifth grade until her final year at Churchill County, she was there matside surrounded by some of the most competitive athletes in the school.
At first, it was just something to do while her brothers wrestled. But as each season passed, she enjoyed being the team’s manager.
“It was just something to keep her busy,” her father recalled. “She was in the stands and I told her to come down and I would teach you how to keep stats. She developed a good understanding. With her being around it a long time, referees would come by (to verify points). She enjoyed it. She was being part of the program but not in the program.”
Her family bought into that same competitiveness found in wrestling as Tyler and Anthony proved every year that they could be among the best in the region and state. Fallon went on a massive 40-plus-dual winning streak that ended when Tyler Reibsamen was a senior and his brother wrestled as a freshman.
“I have a very supportive family but being raised with two older brothers and a dad as a coach probably helped me become more of a competitive and tougher person and player,” Kelsey Reibsamen said.
Surrounded by the competiveness of her brothers and each wrestling team throughout the years, the youngest Reibsamen adopted some of the philosophies to help transform her into a solid setter for Silver State Volleyball Club, and then the Lady Wave volleyball program last season. Her family’s and the wrestling program’s success, especially that winning streak, created a foundation of confidence and determination for Kelsey Reibsamen. The result: playing volleyball at the next level at a nearby, private Christian college.
“They never lost a duel for almost four years straight,” she said. “The team would go to dual and there was no question of winning or losing because they had the attitudes that they were going out to win from the start. In volleyball when I play hard teams or I start to doubt how the outcome of the game will go, I just remind myself of what a winner’s attitude is and how it looks and feels to win, and it makes me play 10 times more confident and better.”
Kelsey Reibsamen turned in a strong season in her only season with Patty Daum’s Lady Wave and stood out during the club season that attracted Simpson University. Kelsey Reibsamen led the team with 191 assists during the 2012 campaign that sent Fallon back to the postseason.
So far in her first season with the Redding, Calif., NAIA school, she’s been nothing but impressive to her coach, Thomas Kirst. Kelsey Reibsamen has recorded eight assists in 19 matches as a backup to senior setter Kelly Tycksen, who ranks as second-best in the California Pacific Conference.
“Her upbeat attitude is refreshing and her willingness to learn is unmatched,” he said. “She’s a spitfire on the court with the ability to adapt in any situation. She has the potential to be the best setter in our conference hands down. I look forward to each practice, scrimmage and game with Kelsey as she is a coach`s top pick. I look for great things with our team with Kelsey on the court.”
Since playing club volleyball seven years ago, Reibsamen wanted to play in college after watching her older brother achieve his dream of wrestling at Sioux Falls (N.D.). She wanted to attend a Christian school and after a four-hour visit to Redding, she felt at home.
“When I met the team, the girls all took me in and it made me feel like a family. The coaching is great and so is the team,” the liberal studies major said. “But I came here to get an education first and the school has a great liberal studies program.”
Playing at the next level, especially in volleyball, would have been difficult if Kelsey Reibsamen didn’t play at the club level because college coaches are able to judge players better during club competition. But with high school and college seasons running at the same time, college coaches can’t watch many matches in person so they rely on the year-round club season.
With her husband coaching in Fallon, Michelle Reibsamen drove her daughter to practice and tournaments, even out of state, as she wanted the best for her youngest. The road trips, shopping adventures and mommy-daughter dates made the experience priceless.
“The girls know each other and we had a blast,” Michelle Reibsamen said about the club team. “I’m not going to lie. Spending time with Kelsey was great for me. You’re never going to get that back.”
And that bonding didn’t stop once her daughter left for Redding. Michelle Reibsamen visits her daughter every weekend and tries to watch as many games as possible.
“We make it a fun little trip,” she added. “We eat breakfast and go shopping. I got to meet her roommates but I pretty much know Redding.”
Both levels of volleyball helped Kelsey Reibsamen prepare for college as well as competing in track during the spring. But nothing compares to college athletics, which can make it tough to adjust at first.
“I don’t think anything can really prepare you completely for the college level because it’s just so different from high school in a sense that you are on an athletic scholarship and are getting paid to play for a team like a job,” she said. “The coach and college basically own you and you mostly do what they say with no argument. When I was in high school, my offseason sports helped me become physically ready for college. Track was a huge help getting me in shape for my main sport.”
Many coaches helped Reibsamen including current Fallon coach Patty Daum, former coach Colleen Meihack and her club coaches, Marco Bisio and Joe Sota. While she valued everyone’s effort to help her become a top-notch setter, Kelsey Reibsamen valued Meihack’s daughter, Alyssa, for coming down from New Mexico.
“She acted as a mentor to me, helping me my last couple years with extra setting practices and helping me be a better setter,” Kelsey Reibsamen said of the former Greenwave setter, who’s turned into one of the best in Western New Mexico’s program history this season.
Alyssa Meihack enjoyed helping her pupil achieve her dream of playing in college. “She has a lot of self motivation and heart,” she said. “Every day when we would set together, she would improve and become better than the day before. She really wanted to play in college and did everything she could to get there by putting in extra work and having the dedication to better her game.”
Kelsey Reibsamen can spend an entire day listing the people who helped her accomplish the goal of playing volleyball in college. From learning stats and being influenced by the wrestling program’s success to receiving help from various coaches and players to her mother driving her to the ends of the state, she is living her dream created by those wrestling roots that opened her eyes.