Athlete of the Week: Crystal Zempel

Battle-tested senior enjoying final run with Gillett
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Gillett’s Crystal Zempel has battled through two ACL tears but has remained positive and hopes to help the team make a playoff run. (Contributed photo)

Athlete: Crystal Zempel

Sport: Volleyball

School: Gillett High School

Year: Senior

In today’s sports world, a torn ACL seems to be about as frequent an injury as any. Gillett senior Crystal Zempel has endured the unfortunate luck of going through the injury twice but has persevered and now sees the court plenty for the Tigers.

As the postseason nears, Zempel can help provide a veteran voice for a team that will be looking to make a surprise playoff run. In the team’s last Marinette & Oconto Conference match, she helped the Tigers rally from a set down to top Lena on the road.

Q: When did your interest in volleyball begin?

A: My interest began when I was little. My aunt, Tricia, played, and she got me started passing.

Q: What’s your favorite part about a volleyball match or the volleyball season?

A: My favorite part of the volleyball match and season is the excitement and the vibe the team gets — the feeling of having a family and group to hang out with and rely on.

Q: When you eventually have to hang up the volleyball uniform, what are you going to miss the most about the game?

A: I am honestly going to miss my teammates being on the court with me. You cannot play volleyball by yourself. I’m going to miss the feeling of playing out on the court.

Q: What things do you and the team need to continue working on as the season progresses to be ready for the postseason?

A: Something our team needs to work on is lots of communication on the court.

Q: What’s your favorite memory of competing on the Gillett volleyball team?

A: My favorite memory of competing on my team is Sophie’s (Horsens) team dinner. We all went on ATVs and ripped around on her trails.

Q: Do you have any rituals you go through before matches?

A: Our team does imaging and focusing training before to get us in the zone. After we jam out and get focused, we hit a quote right above the door in the locker room. The quote says, “Play like a champion.”

Q: Do you look up to any particular athletes? If so, why them?

A: I look up to Jordy Nelson because around the time that he tore his ACL, I also tore my first one. (Zempel has torn the ACL in each knee.) It was like a competition between him and me. I ended up getting cleared in six months and him after.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do when you are not in school or competing in a high school sport?

A: My favorite thing to do is pull my Allis Chalmers tractor, drive my four-wheeler, hunt or dirt track race. If I am not in school or at a game, you’ll find me there.

Q: Favorite TV show, movie, musical artist?

A: My favorite TV show is by far “Supernatural.” Dean Winchester just gets to me. My favorite movie is “The Incredibles.” My favorite musical artist is Thomas Rhett.

Q: Name one thing about yourself that not many people know.

A: One thing may people don’t know is that I am terrified of clowns and rollercoasters.

Q: Do you have a favorite quote, verse or lyrics from a song?

A: My favorite quote is, “Esketit!” It means, “Let’s get it!”