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With professional volleyball career set to begin, NU's Foecke puts vet school ambitions on hold
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With professional volleyball career set to begin, NU's Foecke puts vet school ambitions on hold

Nebraska volleyball vs. Illinois, 12.13

Nebraska’s Mikaela Foecke (2) goes for a kill against Illinois’ Ashlyn Fleming (12) as Huskers teammates Nicklin Hames (left) and Kenzie Maloney look on in the first set on Dec. 13 during an NCAA Tournament semifinal at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

There are still some things that Mikaela Foecke doesn’t know about what she’ll be doing in the near future, but she knows she’s going to play some more high-level volleyball.

Foecke played last season for Nebraska, saying she didn’t know if she would play professional volleyball after college, like most players of her talent do. For Foecke going to graduate school to be a veterinarian was also an option.

Now she’s planning to do both, with her professional volleyball career set to begin next month as a player in the United States national team system.

And in February, Foecke got the good news that she was accepted into vet school at Iowa State, in her home state. Her plan is to delay going to vet school for at least one year.

Foecke applied for vet school last August, but didn’t find out she had gotten in until Feb. 15.

“It was exciting. I was just happy and relieved,” Foecke said. “I kind of felt like all of a sudden I had a bunch of options then.”

Then last month, during UNL's spring break, Foecke was invited to train with the U.S. national team at its training center in Anaheim, California.

Foecke was one of the 17 former or current college players invited to a week-long spring training. Former Huskers Kadie Rolfzen and Justine Wong-Orantes were also part of that group. There were also several other players from Big Ten schools, including Wisconsin’s Sydney Hilley, Tionna Williams and Dana Rettke; Illinois’ Jacqueline Quade and Minnesota setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson.

“(U.S. coach Karch Kiraly) just gave me a call and asked if I wanted to come out. I just thought I’d give it a shot,” Foecke said. “You only get that opportunity once in a lifetime so you really have to take advantage of that. I just went out and tried it and enjoyed my time there, so I’m going to go back and see what it’s like.”

The training session came when many of the top U.S. players were still playing with their professional teams.

Foecke has been invited back to train with the U.S. program after she graduates in May, and plans to be in California most of the summer.

Once she's there, Foecke will compete for one of the roster spots for one of the numerous tournaments Team USA plays in each summer. That includes two events, the Pan American Games and Pan American Cup, where the U.S. doesn’t always send its Olympic-level players.

Why did Foecke decide to keep playing?

“The season didn’t exactly end how you want to end,” said Foecke, in reference to the Huskers losing the fifth set of the national championship by three points against Stanford.

“I think that, and just knowing that I don’t want to look back in 20 years and realize that I missed a great opportunity that I had. I’m trying to check all of the boxes, and make sure that I don’t have any regrets.”

Foecke is also in the process of finding a professional team to play for, with those seasons beginning in the fall. Some of the pro seasons are still going on, so signing players for next season will pick up after the season ends.

American women played professionally this season in 33 different countries, including Austria, France, Italy, Japan and Turkey.

Foecke is just getting her introduction to the pro volleyball leagues.

“I’m learning that, too,” she said. “I have an agent, and I’m just working on finding a team and signing a contract right now.”

To keep her volleyball skills sharp Foecke has been joining in on some of Nebraska's practices during the spring volleyball season.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7435 or On Twitter @LJSSportsWagner.


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Husker volleyball/women's basketball reporter

Brent has worked at the Journal Star for 14 years. His beats include Nebraska volleyball, women's basketball and high school soccer and cross country.

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