Courtesy: Jamie Schwaberow/Rich Clarkson and Associates
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Senior Feature: Kresson Vreeman
Courtesy: Samuel Jay, DU Media Relations  
Release: 10/26/2010

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It is common to think that people from small towns have a difficult time making the move to a larger city. They are not supposed to be used to the culture, tall buildings, food not served in a café or diner, etc. However, for most that is not the case and it was really not the case for Pioneers volleyball senior Kresson Vreeman,

"I always liked to think of myself as a big city girl who just happened to be raised in a small town." Vreeman grew up in Raymond, Minnesota; a town of roughly 800 people halfway between Minneapolis-St. Paul and the South Dakota border. From early on, volleyball got her out of Raymond and made her that "big city girl."

"We made trips to Minneapolis a couple times a week because I played club [volleyball] there," says Vreeman. "And my sisters lived there for a couple of years so I spent a lot of time there."

The transition to Denver was made easier for Vreeman who found herself in a new city, but with a group of friends already intact. "Coming here and being on the volleyball team I immediately knew the people that I would be spending a lot of time with," says Vreeman with a bit of a melancholic smile, because she knows the end of the season is nearing.

For Vreeman, it was not just her cosmopolitan upbringing or the established social group that made her move away from Minnesota easier. Much of this credit is given to her faith. "I grew up going to a Christian school all my life and my family was very involved in church," says Vreeman. "It was a little bit of an adjustment coming here and not knowing very many people that believed the same things that I did, but I found a church and got involved and that really helped."

And it is apparent that volleyball was more than just competition for Vreeman, "For me it has always been about using all of the talents and abilities God has given me to give him glory." Sometimes this has been hard for Vreeman, mostly because of the tedious schedule of a Division I student-athlete. "I always want to put God number one, but at times I find myself putting volleyball number one. That has been hard, but at the same time I remind myself of where God is in my life and it has made me stronger in my faith," states a humble Vreeman.

Her faith did more than get her through a successful volleyball career at DU. She will finish in the top-10 all time at DU for assists, assists per set and services aces. It helped her deal with the loss of her brother-in-law in March 2009 to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a rare disease caused when an injury happens to the lungs causing inflammation and subsequent stress.

He had been sick with an infection and was being treated, but when he went in to the hospital around Christmas 2008 the disease had taken over. "A couple days later they called and said they did not know if he was going to make it," says Vreeman. "It was a roller coaster for three months, but he started getting better around spring break."

He was released from the hospital, but within a week he had a brain aneurysm -from all the stress fighting the disease had taken from his body- and died. "It was ironic because they said he did not even die from the ARDS, but from his body shutting down from all the medication."

Vreeman's sister is now heading a family of three kids, the oldest being seven, but with the help of God and family, she is doing her best to get through the adjustment. "She lives in Tennessee to be with our other sisters, but it is tough because I cannot be there," says Vreeman. "It has been hard seeing her kids and seeing how hard this has been on them."

Reese, one of Vreeman's nieces, started making her own cards and selling them as a way to help her mother pay for her and her siblings' college. "She is quite the ambitious little girl. She was on TV and it was pretty amazing."

Vreeman says she spent a lot of time wondering if she "should even be here" or if she needed to go to Tennessee and help her sister. "I prayed about it a lot and I felt like God still wanted to use me here. Honestly, knowing that John is in heaven and knowing his faith got him there helped us get through it," says Vreeman, sadly. "I cannot even imagine going through this without knowing my faith and knowing what would happen after death. It gave me peace."

Hearing Vreeman say this, makes it clear that the English major -"I love grammar!"- is going to be confident in all of the post-volleyball decisions she has to make once she leaves Hamilton Gymnasium. "I know that there is something bigger out there and that whatever I do it is not going to be all about me."

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