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From Lions to Tigers, Dwight remains a force on volleyball court

Dakota Wesleyan's Ady Dwight attacks the ball during a match earlier this season. The Langford native has been a standout for DWU from the minute she stepped on campus. Photo by Marcus Traxler/Mitchell Daily Republic

MITCHELL – Ady Dwight is living a life she never imagined.

The former Langford Area and current Dakota Wesleyan volleyball standout is on the cusp of her fourth straight All-America award and just landed a prestigious national award from the NAIA national office.

And she still needs a moment to take it all in sometimes.

“One word to describe it is just incredible,” Dwight said of her career with the Tigers. “It’s something I thought would never happen in my life. I’ve been surrounded by really great teammates and people I’ll be friends with forever. … It’s something I’ll never forget or take for granted.”

Dwight’s list of accomplishments reads like a novel at times. She’s been an All-American practically since she stepped foot on the court and will almost certainly garner a fourth certificate this season. She’s been named to the All-GPAC squad every year, as well, and has 11 career GPAC Player of the Week awards to her credit.

Dwight will end her career shy of the top spot on DWU’s all-time career kills chart, but Tiger head coach Lindsay Wilber still had exceptionally high praise for her team captain.

“There won’t be another one like her for a long time,” Wilber said. “She’s the best volleyball player that has stepped foot on the court here at DWU.”

And if that weren’t enough, Dwight was a leading member of last year’s Tiger squad that advanced to the elite eight of the NAIA national tournament.

“You get lucky sometimes when a recruit like Ady comes into your gym,” Wilber said. “I knew the minute she walked into our gym her freshman year, we’ve got something special here.”

Dakota Wesleyan’s Ady Dwight (left) battles an opponent at the net during a match earlier this season. Photo by Marcus Traxler/Mitchell Daily Republic

For Dwight, the small-town feel of the Tigers felt like a perfect fit.

“I love it here,” she said. “I love the small program. I love the NAIA and what it stands for.“

“She bleeds blue,” Wilber said. “She’s the role model of what a successful DWU student-athlete looks like. She’s not a big rah-rah kid. She’s so humble about all these awards. She just takes it, smiles and moves on.”

One of those awards – aside from the pile of the ones she already had – is the NAIA’s A.O. Duer Award, given annually to one male and one female junior student-athlete from across the nation and across the spectrum of sports offered by that governing body. The award considers not only athletic accomplishments, but academic standing, character and community involvement.

Her nomination went first to the GPAC committee before going on to the national committee and Dwight essentially never gave it a second thought.

“There’s 80,000 students (athletes) in the NAIA,” she said. “Of course I’m not going to win.”

Which made the congratulatory phone call she got earlier this fall a genuine surprise.

“Are you kidding me? Is this real life?” Dwight said. “It was kind of an emotional moment. Small town girl, that doesn’t happen very often.”

“The GPAC is excited for Ady to win this honor,” said GPAC Commissioner Corey Westra. “Ady is so well respected as a student-athlete in the GPAC. She has had an outstanding career. This award is a capstone for her amazing hard work on and off the court.”

Still, Dwight smiled, and went back to work, which meant taking on an even bigger role on the court. The Tigers lost five seniors off last year’s elite eight squad, and the younger players trying to fill those spots needed a leader.

Ady Dwight prepares to serve the ball during a match for Dakota Wesleyan University earlier this season. Photo by Marcus Traxler/Mitchell Daily Republic

Wilber noted that Dwight has always done and said the right things on – and off – the court, but with such a young team this year, her voice needed to be a bit louder than usual.

Naturally, Dwight stepped up.

“At Langford for four years, I wanted to be a leader,” she said. “And I was. I wanted to do that here, too.”

“It’s been awesome to see her mature and take over the team this year,” Wilber said.

Dwight and the Tigers are 18-13 on the season with a 7-7 mark in conference play. Dakota Wesleyan will head to Dordt this weekend before closing out the regular season Tuesday against 12th-ranked Jamestown.

And whenever the sand runs out on the season, one thing will be for certain – Dwight will have given the Tigers everything she had.

“She doesn’t do anything halfway,” Wilber said. “She does it all 100 percent. Academics, playing, everything. I’m going to miss that about her.”

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