Local volleyball star felt divine call to ONU
College can be seen as an opportunity to get away from home, see other parts of the country or even the world.
Yet some college athletes decide to stay close to home, like Olivet Nazarene University women's volleyball player Katie Tabisz.
"Katie has been a great player for us here at ONU, she represents our university, our team and Christian ministry so well," Head Coach Brenda Williams told the Will County Gazette. "Her outstanding athletic ability and willingness to do whatever the team needs from her, from hitting or setting, has been a great plus for us. Katie is also one of those quiet leaders that is there for her teammates and leads by example."
Tabisz played her high school volleyball at Lockport Township High School, where a very successful volleyball career began. She won varsity letters in three of her years there. She gained even more valuable experience playing club volleyball with the First Alliance Club. She helped lead the team to a fourth place finish at Pre-Nationals with a 4-2 record, and also a fifth place finish at the Northern Lights National Qualifier, with the team going 7-1.
Tabisz said that not knowing many of the team's players actually helped her learn about the importance of communication in volleyball. "I came to club only knowing one other person, which was difficult when the majority of the team was already friends with one another," she said. "But this experience helped me to become more outgoing and talkative, which is huge in volleyball. I also had incredible coaches at First Alliance and still use their nuggets of wisdom on the court. I learned how to consistently give your all. First Alliance is a highly competitive club and I had to bust my tail to compete with the other girls and teams we faced."
Williams said the experience at First Alliance and high school helped Tabisz tremendously.
"Playing at First Alliance and Lockport High School helped Katie become more versatile as a player as she went up against very strong volleyball programs teaching her a higher level of volleyball IQ," Williams said.
Tabisz then transitioned to ONU, where she has continued to succeed. In 2013, she was voted Most Outstanding Newcomer, and she was named Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Second team all-conference in 2014 and 2015. Thus far Tabisz has a nearly 90 percent serve percentage.
"I think God and my support system have been a huge part of my success," Tabisz said. "God has placed me in the sport and has blessed me with the talents and the love of the sport. I also have to give a huge thank you to my support system: my family, my teammates and coaches. Without them, I would not be here today. They are constantly challenging me and encouraging me to be the best I can."
Tabisz added that ONU being close to home (her hometown of Lockport is just one hour north of the ONU campus) was mainly a religious calling that happens to have some additional perks. "I decided on ONU because I felt God was calling me to go here," she said. "I had known that God has blessed me with my athleticism, but I wasn't sure on how to actually use those gifts for His glory. I realized that if I played for a Christian school and studied at a Christian college, I would be using those gifts that He blessed me with to immerse myself in a great environment that does everything it can to truly honor Him. Also, being so close, my parents can come to almost every game, which is pretty cool."
Williams said that local players like Tabisz are a big help to the makeup of the team. "I like to recruit local players that have high volleyball IQ, great grades, are athletic and a great fit for Olivet Nazarene University," she said, adding that Tabisz is a senior captain for the team this season.