Now that the longest five months of her volleyball career are in the past, the 6-foot-4 senior outside hitter is finally going to get the chance to show what she can do on the court.
Thompson sat out all of last season, the result of her transfer from Minneapolis Southwest to Edina (“Southwest wasn’t a good fit for me,” she said). She was able to practice with the Hornets all season, but during matches, she was relegated to a spot on the bench in street clothes.
“It was really hard to watch the team play without me,” said Thompson, whose uncle is Minnesota Vikings Hall of Fame defensive end Chris Doleman. “I’m a pretty competitive person, so it was tough not being able to play when there were time when I really felt like I could help out.”
We talked with Thompson about a successful summer with her club team, her hopes for this season and the unexpected advantage to being 6-4.
Q: How difficult was it to change schools?
A: I transferred in the last half of my sophomore year, so, yeah, I was a little nervous on the first day, but everyone was super nice. They asked if I needed help finding my way around the school and would walk me to class. It was a super-welcoming environment that made it pretty easy.
Q: After not playing varsity matches all fall, how much did you enjoy playing with your club team, Northern Lights 17-1s?
A: Summer [Junior Olympic volleyball] was really great. We went to Florida and won a national tournament. It was exciting because we had a season of injuries, but by the time we got to Florida, we had all gotten healthy and came together at the right time.
Q: Did you know your team had the ability to play together that well?
A: We had high expectations when we could all play together. It was just all just about focusing on the matches ahead of us and pushing through.
Q: With you being eligible to play this year, there are also some high expectations for Edina this fall.
A: My plan is to [help] take Edina to state. We have all the key components to be a great team. And we’re super-motivated because people never expect Edina to do well in volleyball.
Q: What are you looking forward to the most?
A: The chance to play all-around. In club, they usually tell me I’m too tall to play in the back row. I’ve been working hard to earn a spot in the back row.
Q: What’s the biggest difference between front row and back row?
A: In the back row, it’s not being able to hit the ball straight down, which is something I love to do. I need to jump high and explode and get a full swing. You have to hit with a different trajectory.
Q: What do you do to get away from volleyball?
A: This summer I worked at YMCA Camp Kici Yapi. I worked with kids and horses. I love horses. When I was growing up, my grandparents lived next to a farm with horses. I’d go to weeklong camps and take lessons. Volleyball and horses are two things I love.
Q: Is it tough riding with your height?
A: No. It’s actually pretty easy to get on. And, because I’m so tall, it doesn’t hurt that bad when I fall off.