Brooklyn Kusler is about to start a new chapter in her storied sports career and the recent Aberdeen Central graduate is ready for the challenge.
Kusler, a multiple-sport standout athlete, is leaving for Marshall, Minn., this week where she will play volleyball for Southwest Minnesota State this fall. Nearly all of her relatives, including her parents, siblings, cousins and uncles played for Northern State, but Kusler wanted a change.
“I always kind of wanted to get out of Aberdeen. Nothing against the town, just wanted to branch out and get out and explore somewhere else,” she said. “I liked the distance from home. It was a good distance, about three hours, so I can make that trip on the weekend. The program has obviously been very successful. That was something I was drawn toward. And I really like the coaching staff from all the contact I had with them, so that was kind of what made the ultimate decision for me.”
Not only will leaving town be a big change, but Kusler will have to adjust to a new setter on the volleyball court. For the first time she won’t have the comfort zone of former Central teammate Grace Myhre serving up the ball.
“It definitely will be a big adjustment. That was one thing I noticed when I was there for a couple of weeks (this summer) playing with everyone. That was a huge adjustment, just getting used to your setters’ timing and playing next to different people. That was one thing that I noticed that was a harder adjustment than what I was anticipating,” Kusler said. “But I think with how much we work on and focus on the different routes that we run, I think the timing will click and it will get better, and it definitely got better as I was there for a couple of weeks and we kept playing.”
Of course, Kusler knows there will be a natural adjustment just going from high school to a potent NCAA Division II program. She figures the pace of play and quality of athletes will be the most notable differences.
“Everything is happening at a lot higher pace. The sets are quicker. You have less time to transition off and get your approach in. The speed is definitely going to be an adjustment,” Kusler said.
Not to mention that there will be no weak spots at any position on the floor.
“Generally in high school, (opponents) would have two really good athletes or they had two players that you focused on,” she said. “In college, it’s everyone that you have to focus on.”
Kusler, who plans to play as a true freshman this season, was a three-sport athlete for Central where she was a finalist for both Miss Basketball and Miss Volleyball. She said it was a difficult choice selecting a sport for college.
“To be honest, it was a really hard decision. I wish I could still play basketball. I’m definitely going to miss it a lot,” Kusler said. “Ultimately, I think I had more recruitment for volleyball I would say. There wasn’t a bad way I could go, either way. Volleyball, basketball, I would have been super happy. It worked out this way. We’ll see how it goes.”
Sports have always been a big part of Kusler’s life, although she said she was never forced into playing anything and said that participating in sports was never just a given.
“I feel like it was more just a goal I was always working toward. Growing up watching from a young age, my cousins Alison and Megan, I just loved watching them and always dreamed of when it was going to be my chance to do the same,” Kusler said. “Then obviously watching my sister (Brianna) as well. I think that’s what ultimately, between those three, made me choose to focus on basketball and volleyball compared to other sports.”
Kusler thanked everyone who has played a major role in her life. One of those is former Central girls’ basketball coach Dawn Seiler, who now serves as Central’s athletic director.
Kusler said she learned more than just X’s and O’s from the legendary coach.
“She’s just obviously a great mentor. She has pushed me along the way, even though basketball wasn’t the sport I was really focusing on. She just has a way of making her athletes want to work as hard as they possibly can for her,” Kusler said. “Coach’s impact goes so much farther than just the athletic side of things. I definitely learned that from her.”
Kusler said her parents have always been supportive of her and the decisions that she makes. She said their advice has been, “definitely just to control what I can control, always making sure that I am working hard, controlling my effort and my attitude. The rest will just work itself out. I think that’s the biggest thing they instilled in me for sure.”
Kusler knows transitioning to the next level will be a challenge, but she has grown accustomed to meeting those challenges head on in the past and is looking forward to the next one in her life.
“I think it’s a really good opportunity for me,” Kusler said of becoming one of the newest weapons for Southwest Minnesota State. “Playing at a high level is always a challenge, but I (plan on) taking it day by day and focusing on what I can control, just trying to make a difference in the program any way I can.”
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