By Jake Knabel, Sports Information Director
The summer of 2010 brought shock to many then-Dana College students, including current Concordia senior-to-be Amanda Kisker. On this particular late-June day, Kisker’s roommate, with distress in her voice, shared the jarring news.
“I could tell she was upset,” Kisker said of the phone conversation. “And she kept going on about some email from the Dana president about it closing. A little confused, I went home and read the email myself. In summary, it explained that the Higher Learning Commission denied Dana’s switch to a for-profit organization and they would be closing their doors immediately.”
The closure of Dana College following Kisker’s freshman year left her scrambling to find a new home. A starting outside hitter on the 2009 Viking volleyball team that went 22-14, Kisker once again had to go shopping for the right college.
“I spent the next week visiting three colleges and talking to over 15 different admissions counselors and coaches,” Kisker said. “It was rather stressful. I mean, it was hard enough to pick a school the first time around and here I was being forced to do it again and on a short time table.”
After carefully considering three schools, the Lincoln, Neb., native selected Concordia. Her new community proved to be a great fit. She already knew a handful of fellow students from her prep days at nearby Lincoln Lutheran High School and was familiar with then-Bulldog head coach Rachel Miller.
“After all my visits and conversations with coaches/admissions counselors Concordia felt like the best option,” Kisker said. “I had a good feeling about this place and was thankful for everything they were able to do for me. The financial aid they were able to offer was really helpful, and the ability to fit me into classes just four weeks before they began was also comforting.”
Kisker made an immediate impact. She became a starter on the volleyball team right away and has played in all 64 of the team’s matches since she arrived on campus. She posted 213 kills in 2010 and then boosted that number to 315 in 2011.
Now entering her third year at Concordia, the two-time GPAC Honorable Mention All-Conference selection sees the upheaval with the benefit of senior perspective.
“I’m so incredibly blessed by the way things worked out and I couldn’t be happier,” Kisker said. “Sometimes I look back and think about how different my life would be had Dana remained open. I loved the school, the memories and the friendships I made, but Concordia is the best place for me. The opportunities I’ve had here aren’t comparable to what I’d receive anywhere else.”
Away from the court, Kisker has been an outstanding student and worker as Concordia’s social media coordinator.
“Throughout the school year I do a lot with the social media. So yes, that means I get paid to be on Facebook,” Kisker said.
According to Dan Oetting, her supervisor in Concordia's marketing office, Kisker is already doing work at a level beyond her years.
"She's been a terrific asset for us," Oetting said. "To do this work requires maturity, tact and a handful of other talents that are hard to find in college graduates, let alone in an undergraduate. We've been able to trust her to be one of Concordia's main voices through social media."
Kisker’s work ethic and leadership has already drawn rave reviews from first-year head volleyball coach Scott Mattera, who has greatly appreciated Kisker’s approach as he gets his feet wet.
“Amanda and Kim (Miller) – two of our returning seniors that saw significant time last year have done a fantastic job of leading,” Mattera said. “Amanda’s been here all summer in the marketing department, so she’s been around a lot and has helped take over some of the organizational stuff. Getting girls to open gyms and following up with workouts and things like that – really taking on that (leadership) role.
“Amanda’s been in the gym working with our setters to better connect on the outside with them, so I think we’re going to see big seasons out of both of them.”
With her final collegiate volleyball season upon her, Kisker hopes to help the program trend upward again. But no matter what happens on the court this season, she will always look back fondly at her time as a Bulldog.
“It took quite the interesting route, but I’m so thankful for everything academically, athletically and socially I’ve experienced at Concordia,” Kisker said. “Choosing to transfer to this university has been one of the best decisions I have made.”