Posted On: 02/14/19 12:02 PM

When the top male athletes in NCAA Division 1 football or men’s basketball finish their career, typically they are are preparing for the combine, the draft, and if they so choose can walk away from getting their degree and start talking endorsement deals.  For Mikaela Foecke, one of the top collegiate players in the country this past season for Nebraska, who finished one match shy of a national championship, is finishing her degree in animal science and awaiting acceptance into veterinary school.

“I have always had a love for animals, I grew up showing hogs, loved being outside, helping them, and was drawn to animal science and becoming a vet,” said Foecke, who will graduate from Nebraska this spring and is awaiting on her acceptance into veterinary school.

However….a big however.

The four time All American, the darling of college volleyball, the one who put her team on her back for a come from behind Husker win in the final four still has some volleyball left in the tank.

“If I get into veterinary school I can defer and am looking to go overseas to play volleyball professionally and see what that has in store.  I want to play, see what I can do with USA volleyball, and what I it looks like at the next level.”

Like most American volleyball players, the opportunity to make playing volleyball a career is found overseas.  The likes of former Nebraska stars, Jordan Larson and Kelsey Robinson have found great success at the European pro level as well as Team USA.  Lauren Carlini, a former Wisconsin Badger, most recently won the Italian Cup for her professional team. There are various levels of professional leagues all over the world, but some of the top are in Europe.  Each country has their own league which would be comparable to conferences at the college level in the states.

Foecke competing at the Iowa State Tournament for Holy Trinity Catholic in Class 1A.

Before the national title rings and mostly recently, her engagement ring she received this past Christmas, Foecke grew up in West Point, a small town just under 1,000 residents and a ten mile drive from the Mississippi River in the Southeast corner of Iowa. For her club volleyball, she would make the three plus hour drive into the Chicago area to play for Fusion, one of the top clubs in the country.

“Fusion is a great club with great athletes year in and year out.  I was very lucky to be a part of their club, developing skills and becoming a six rotation outside player, a lot of my success I can attribute to that experience,” said the 2015 National Gatorade Player of the Year.  

“Traveling to Chicago, I gave up weekends with friends, sleeping in my own bed, but in the end it’s worth it, I’m very grateful for that.  Not sure what I would have done without that experience.”

For many club volleyball athletes, they will be starting their journey of getting to the next level, the recruiting process.  For Foecke, who was once there, had thoughtful advice in regards to not only the recruiting process, but being the best possible teammate.

“Work hard every single day, don’t play for the coaches who are watching, play for your teammates.  Don’t play to try and impress because coaches notice that. Coaches want to see an individual that is well rounded and the team as a whole.”

As for making the decision, Foecke offered three bits of advice that can be useful for athletes looking to play collegiately at any level and any sport for that matter.

Three Major Keys To Making a Decision:

Does the school have the academic program?  Volleyball doesn’t last forever and what is your plan when volleyball is over? 

Do you fit in with the players?  Throughout the recruiting process you spend a lot of time talking with coaches and you don’t always get in contact right away with the players.  You aren’t going to spend all your time with the coaches, you’ll be spending it with the players. Does the team have a good fit, do they have similar beliefs as you, do they fit with your personality?

Is the volleyball what you want?  

What level do you want to play at?  Does the level match the amount of playing time you are expecting meaning playing right away or having to wait?  What are your expectations versus the reality?

A Little More About Mikaela 

Favorite animal to work with:  Dogs
Favorite volleyball drill: Queen of the Court
If you could change one rule in volleyball, what would it be: Less Subs
Toughest Class You’ve Taken: BioChemistry
Favorite place to travel: Rome, Italy
Something most people wouldn’t know about you: I use to be a baton twirler
Favorite Volleyball Player Growing Up: Jordan Larson
Favorite TV Show/Netflix Binge: Brooklyn Nine-Nine
A quote, mantra, or piece of advice you’ve received that has helped you throughout your athletics and academics: The distance between your dreams and reality is called action.

Foecke’s High School video being named National Gatorade Player of the year in 2014-2015 season.