Devils Prospects: Beach volleyball recruit uses faith to give to community

Beach volleyball signee Kaitlyn Winkelman credits her Christian faith for getting her to where she is today

Growing up in Lone Tree, Colorado, there was a lot of snow and no beaches, but ASU beach volleyball signee Kaitlyn Winkelman found a way to play the game while also giving back to her community.

“I know that college sports can be super overwhelming just to balance that with the workload of school,” Winkelman said. “It's a great opportunity to give all those athletes an outlet to trust in God and put focus in him in the midst of all the craziness.”

Winkelman will be graduating in May from Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, where she acknowledged the struggles of balancing all of her school work, athletics and service to her local community. She is also apart of her school’s discovery program, which focuses on integrating academics with developing the student through faith and service. 

“I’ve done a lot of stuff just locally in Denver, helping the homeless and just working with special needs individuals,” Winkelman said.

Past club volleyball and high school teammate Emma Ziegler said Winkelman's personality on and off the court echoes her giving nature.

“Kaitlyn is always the loudest one on the court, continuously cheering her teammates on and being a great leader,” Ziegler said. “Off the court she is always leading in the classroom and being a great role model and friend to people around her.”

Winkelman has played indoor volleyball since second grade, but club director of Momentum Volleyball, David Bartling, suggested Winkelman try beach volleyball in eighth grade.

“All the young ladies that play at this level have outstanding qualities. Kaitlyn has a strong work ethic and is fiercely competitive,” Bartling said. “Combine that with serious ball control skills and an understanding of the beach game, and you have something special.”

Since she began playing beach volleyball, Winkelman has earned first place in the Gateway Open U18 National Qualifier and the Amateur Athletic Union's U16 Junior Olympics Qualifier in Huntington Beach. She also made the 2019 High Performance U17 A1 Team, what she called her biggest accomplishment thus far.

“I really love just forming that relationship with my partner because it’s just the two of you,” Winkelman said about the differences between beach and indoor volleyball. “I love being a huge part of every play, like there’s only two of you so you touch every ball, you have a lot of say in how the game is controlled.” 

Winkelman began her recruitment in eighth grade knowing that playing out of Colorado, where there’s not a beach in sight, would be a struggle. 

“I played a lot of tournaments in California because that’s kind of the center of the beach volleyball world and kind of where you have to go to get looked at and I reached out to ASU,” Winkelman said.

Winkelman continued to stay in touch with the ASU coaching staff and verbally committed on Sept. 10, 2019. She recently signed her National Letter of Intent to play at ASU on Nov. 12, 2020.

“You felt at home, all the girls were super welcoming, the coaches have just created a really good environment for the beach volleyball program, and I just couldn’t find anything I didn’t like about it.” Winkelman said. 

Winkelman had the chance to meet other 2021 recruits during her official visit to ASU last September where they toured the facilities and participated in activities that got her excited for this approaching fall.

Winkelman, who looks forward to joining Barrett, the Honors College and studying pre-law, is leaving the door open for playing professionally after school, but she is also wanting to focus on her other interests such as traveling, mission work and her potential career in law. 

“I love volleyball and it’s a huge part of my life, but I also have a lot of other interests that I might choose to focus on outside of college; but I still have time so we’ll see how it could be super cool.” Winkelman said. “My faith has really made me appreciate the culture and traditions of where I have been.”

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