Caleb Pollema-Staff Writer
Ema Altena is a junior pre-physical therapy major from Sioux Center, IA. As an outside hitter, Altena currently ranks fifth nationally with 4.4 kills per set. She started playing volleyball in the fifth grade and now wears number 12 for the Defender women’s volleyball team.
Q: Why did you come to Dordt?
EA: I came to Dordt because my sister came here. She was four years older than me so I knew a little bit about the campus. Otherwise, I really wanted to play volleyball when I came to college and I wanted to go to a Christian college because I knew with doing pre-physical therapy that for graduate school I would probably have to go to a state school or something like that. I wanted to continue that Christian education I had from grade school and high school. I chose Dordt because when I came to visit I really liked the community aspect of it and I had heard a lot about how well their professors interact with their students and really care about their students. I wanted a place where I knew I could grow athletically and spiritually. It just seemed like the right fit.
Q: What are your personal goals for the season?
EA: I guess I really don’t think about personal goals very often. This year is the first year I [am] playing back row [in college]. I played back row my senior year of high school, but my first two years at Dordt I just played front row. So one personal goal would be to improve on passing every game and getting those stats up.
Q: What are your goals as a team for this season?
EA: Coach has really talked a lot about growth. That is like with personal growth, so improving your blocking form and improving how you are contributing to the team: my kills per game, my percentages per game. And you always want to be consistent. As a team, we all are growing individually so we can better help out the whole team. Otherwise, some of our other team goals are to make it back to nationals. Obviously, last year when we went to nationals, we never thought about making it to the championship game. If we didn’t make it, we weren’t thinking nationals were a failure. That’s not how it was. Once we got to nationals and we started playing games, it sort of revealed itself to us and became a reality for us. I think another focus and mentality we have this year is to focus on every game and how we can execute to the best of our ability against every individual opponent. Then, the season will play out how it plays out. We want to make it back to nationals and be competitive at nationals. We want to continue to be competitive and have a good record in our conference since the GPAC is a very talented conference.
Q: What has been your favorite memory playing volleyball here at Dordt?
EA: My favorite memory was probably the national championship game last year. The coolest part about that was walking out onto the championship court and seeing how many Dordt people were there. I think one of the gatekeepers said Dordt broke the record for the amount of people that came to watch the championship game ever in Sioux City. That was super cool. I loved seeing how many people were there to support us and watch us. That sort of environment was just super awesome.
Q: What athletes did you look up to growing up?
EA: I didn’t really watch very many sports when I was little. When I was way younger, I played softball so I really looked up to Jenny Finch because she was in some magazines I read and things like that. Otherwise, I really didn’t watch sports.
Q: What hobbies do you have?
EA: I really like boating and wakeboarding in the summer with my family. Otherwise, I just like spending time with friends. If I can find a good book, I really like to read. I like to shop.
Q: What are your plans after college?
EA: After college, I hope to get into grad school somewhere. I haven’t really looked into any specific place yet. I know of a couple good programs around here, but I still have two more years at Dordt. I will start applying next summer. Otherwise, I would say my closest future goals are grad school in the next three years after college.