Katie Brand could be a college student right now.
Kansas State wanted the Grand Island Central Catholic first-team Super-State volleyball player to graduate in December and begin her college career in the spring. But the 6-foot-1 setter elected to stay in high school and experience everything a senior does in their final semester.
"I'm definitely happy I stayed," said Brand, who averaged 12.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.5 blocked shots as a honorable mention Class C-1 all-state basketball player last winter. She plays No. 1 singles for the Crusaders' tennis team, taking third in that division the past two years at the Class B state tournament.
"Initially I wanted to be there (at Kansas State) early, but the more people I talked to, the more I heard that I'll be missing out on so many fun experiences, and they were right."
Brand, who has a 4.0 grade-point average, depends on time management to balance academics and sports. It can be particularly difficult in the winter and spring, when her high school sport mixes with playing club volleyball for the Omaha-based Nebraska Elite.
"It was tough in the winter because I'd come home pretty tired from basketball and I'd still have homework to do," said Brand, who competes with the club team every Wednesday in Lincoln with either practice or a tournament on Sundays.
"I miss a lot of school in the spring because of all-day tennis tournaments and club (volleyball) tournaments, but I always try to work ahead as much as possible and communicate with my teachers to make sure I don't miss anything."
Brand puts in a full day, beginning with weight lifting at 6:30 a.m. Her class schedule consists of video media, calculus, religion, college credit English and history. She uses the final two periods of the day to get all of her homework done before she starts sports after school.
"I use any free time I have to study, get homework done or finish any projects I have to do," she said. "Quite often, I use the trips to Lincoln and Omaha for volleyball as study time. There's a lot of early mornings and late nights."
Brand begins summer school at Kansas State on June 3. She's uncertain about a major, but there will be peer pressure to perform well in the classroom as well as on the volleyball court.
"All the girls have 3.5 or better GPAs, so grades and academics are important to them," said Brand, who also considered scholarship offers from Colorado State and Iowa State. "I really like math, and I'm thinking about something in medicine, but I'm not sure right now. I know I'll get a good education there, no matter what I go into."