Chelsea Chavez is leaving it all on the court her senior season.
The senior middle blocker for the Northern State volleyball team is off to a solid start for the Wolves this season. She has started all 13 matches and this season. She leads the team with 37 blocks. She had 40 blocks all of last season. She is also fourth on the team in kills, with 69 for this season.
“She is doing a really nice job,” NSU coach Brent Aldridge said. “Her offense is coming along. She is staying off the net. She is just really aggressive.”
It was Aldridge’s Arizona connections that helped him land Chavez, who spent her first two seasons at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Ariz. Prior to NSU, Aldridge spent three seasons as the assistant coach at Division I Arizona State. When Aldridge was named the Wolves’ coach in early 2011, he knew he needed a middle blocker. He contacted coaches at the South Mountain and Chavez later chose to attend Northern.
“Brent was my number one reason,” Chavez said about choosing NSU. “Also, the school. It is very small. I like that about school, because the teachers are interactive with their students.”
If she didn’t decide to attend NSU and play volleyball, she said “I honestly don’t know what I would be doing right now, if I didn’t play volleyball.”
Last season at Northern, she started 12 of the 27 matches and played in only 18 matches overall.
“She had some opportunities last year and she got beat out,” Aldridge said. “I think it was tough for her.”
The 6-foot-1 Chavez admitted it was tough losing her starting spot, but that fueled her in the off-season. She went back home to Arizona for the first month of this past summer, but then she came back to the Hub City to train with her team.
“I went into spring training with that mindset that I need to be the best that I can be for my senior year,” said Chavez, one of three Arizona natives on the team. “Because, obviously, there are no more years I can play volleyball. It is my senior year.”
She said she worked on small things that she needed to improve upon, such as blocking, hitting and footwork.
“She worked really hard this summer physically and I think it has shown,” Aldridge said. “She is doing a nice job. We are going to continue to need her to do that. We are just really proud of her.”
So far this season, Chavez and the Wolves are displaying the fruit of their off-season labor. The Wolves are 6-7 overall and 1-4 in the NSIC going into Friday’s match vs. No. 2 Southwest Minnesota State. It will be the Wolves seventh time facing a ranked team this season. Northern has held its own against those ranked teams as it is 2-4 against teams in the top 25. The Wolves' two wins over ranked teams are Minnesota State-Moorhead and Minnesota State, Mankato.
“I would say just teamwork,” Chavez said about the solid season so far. “In the end, that is the only way to win a game. There is not one person that can shine in a game. It has to be everybody. We are starting to understand that now.”
Just like she is understanding this is her last season and she is leaving it all out on the court.
“I have be the best I can be,” she said. “That is all I can ask for. That is my mindset going into a match.”
Parks back at Northern
Tom Parks’ basketball travels have brought him back to Northern State.
The former NSU guard is the new assistant coach for the men’s basketball team after playing professionally last season in Spain. Parks replaces Justin Wieck, who was recently named the Jamestown College men’s basketball coach.