“I couldn’t have asked for a better result after being injured. Not only could I see the game from a different perspective, but I could apply it once I was able to get into games."
Back in New York, Faimie Kingsley wasn’t happy with the academics at her local high school.
So the Pioneers volleyball phenom talked her parents into letting her attend boarding school, even going so far as to fill out the financial aid applications on her own. She landed at The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn., where she found a better academic experience and played three sports — volleyball, basketball and track.
During this time, Kingsley — now a DU junior business major — lived the sort of lifestyle most college students must adjust to — residence halls, roommates and time management. But those experiences helped develop Kingsley into an impressive athlete and a mature, goal-driven individual.
“When she came to us, she had a much more worldly experience than the typical college freshman,” says Todd Nelson, a DU assistant volleyball coach. “That maturity has allowed her to look at things differently. She is very self-reliant.”
Years before she developed into the top player in the DU program, Kingsley was an unheralded up-and-comer turning heads at a University of Nebraska volleyball camp. One of those heads belonged to former DU volleyball assistant Brook Coulter, who passed on her glowing observations to current assistant Todd Nelson.
Nelson worked dutifully over the next few years to bring Kingsley into head coach Beth Kuwata’s program, and the importance of that chance meeting at Nebraska has never been forgotten.
“It’s crazy how on that one day, I was a kid from New York just showing up to see if I could compete,” Kingsley says. “When I got interest from the University of Denver volleyball coaches, I realized there might be a future for me in this sport.If not for that one day, I don’t know what I could have missed.”
Indeed, if not for that day, the Pioneers would have missed out on watching a uniquely talented player come into her own.
At 5-foot-9-inches, some considered Kingsley too short for a middle blocker. But she used her phenomenal vertical leap to lead the Pioneers in blocks as a freshman in 2009. However, a nagging problem with shin splints led to surgery in the late spring of 2010. Kuwata and her staff discussed applying for a medical redshirt for Kingsley for the 2010 campaign, but ultimately decided, with Kingsley’s input, that having Kingsley at somewhere between 70–80 percent was better than not having Kingsley at all.
“In the preseason, when we found out I couldn’t play until October, we talked a little bit about redshirting,” Kingsley says. “But we had a couple other injuries and we were a little low on numbers, so in the end we didn’t think it would be good for me to redshirt. I thought I could still help the team.”
Kingsley was sidelined until mid-October and was on a strict 120-jumps-per-match regimen upon her return. Kingsley still proved to be a key contributor, and also landed a spot on the Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s List, the league’s highest academic honor.
Although her sophomore season was somewhat abbreviated, the time on the sideline helped her to improve by watching the game from a fresh perspective.
“She’s a natural athlete and this allows her to do things very, very few others can do,” Nelson says. “You hate to say this, but her being injured last year helped her to get a better understanding of the game. Couple that understanding with her athleticism, and you get what she has been able to do this year.”
Kingsley’s dominance this year has been as stunning as it has been thorough. Kingsley led the Pioneers in kills and blocks. She has earned three conference Player of the Week honors and was named to the Sun Belt’s All-Conference First Team.
“To come back and play as well as I have and even have my vertical improve, I’m taken aback,” Kingsley says. “I couldn’t have asked for a better result after being injured. Not only could I see the game from a different perspective, but I could apply it once I was able to get into games. I’d never want to do it again, knock on wood, but if I had to pick a time to get injured, that was perfect.”