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Folkers has become quiet leader for Lady Wildcats

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HARTINGTON — The Hartington-Newcastle volleyball team returned from a 2020 campaign that saw the Lady Wildcats come just inches away from a state tournament berth.

With that came change and the new roster would see a lot of young players step up, yet, still full of sophomores and juniors and then of course a handful of venerable veterans.

One of them is outside hitter Erin Folkers.

Folkers is a quiet leader for the Lady Wildcats who sets the tone via her actions and work ethic first and does her talking when the ball is in play.

“She’s a quiet player but brings the hammer,” HNS head coach Leigh Haselhorst says of the three-year starter. “Every year she has had to battle through some tough injuries but always bounces back. It has been incredibly fun to watch her grow into the player she is today.”

Haselhorst has some high expectations for the Wildcat standout. “This year I’m expecting her to do some big things. She’s

“This year I’m expecting her to do some big things. She’s one player we can count on to put the ball away and get a side out,” the veteran coach said.

Folkers and the Lady Wildcats had to sit out the last weekplus of games due to entering a COVID-19 protocol and were handed two forfeit defeats to move to 1-5 this season.

The time off gave Folkers a chance to reflect on her career and look ahead of what to expect this season.

“I have had a lot of fun the last three years and I have just been working hard,” Folkers said. “It’s been a really good experience and made a lot of good friends. I have worked hard to try to get better. Last year was hard because we had to wear masks at games and everything and I already have trouble breathing.

“Overall, I have really enjoyed it.”

Folkers has exercise-induced asthma and requires the use of an inhaler. She had to sit out of a game last year because her asthma got too problematic.

Folkers has battled chronic ailments to her ankles as well.

“I roll my ankles a lot,” Folkers said. “I just recently rolled my ankle, and I am hoping I’ll get to practice (this week). That’s the only injuries I get. They’ve told me I have such weak ankles. It’s really weird because I have been wearing ankle braces since my sophomore year and I still roll them with the braces on.

“It’s painful.” She has still stayed the course,

She has still stayed the course, playing the sport since fifth grade and then taking it seriously once she got to high school and suddenly found herself excelling and becoming a starter. “I remember my mom asking

“I remember my mom asking me if I wanted to go out and my friends were going out, so I said, ‘sure,’” Folkers said of the fateful days in her younger years. “I just wanted to hang out with my friends. It’s kind of the same now: I still like hanging out with my friends on the team and I really enjoy it.

“It’s my last year and it’s the only sport that I do and enjoy.”

Folkers may be a hammer, but she is self-professed quieter type of player while she has become a better hitter and played a big role in last year’s sub-district final win over Cedar Catholic.

“I was moved to right side my sophomore year and then moved me back to the outside for my last two years,” the 5-foot-6 Folkers said. “Sometimes I do trick shots and line shots. They don’t necessarily need to be powerful. I do some quick balls too. You can’t think about it too much and you just have to go up and hit it. I’ve tooled blocks before and for the Cedar game last year, that’s where I got most of my kills – hitting outside of the block.

“I really don’t like to be in people’s faces so much and some leaders in the past like to be in your face and can mess with the attitudes of players. There are some players this year who have stepped into those roles this year. It’s fine, but it’s not my type of leadership. I like to sit back and if something needs to be said, I’ll say something.”

Folkers believes in what the team can do and hopefully can replicate last year’s late run that put them on the doorstep of the state tournament at a district final.

“Our team has a lot of potential and a lot of good girls,” Folkers said. “We have to find that chemistry and we are still working through that. We have girls that have stepped up and taken the places from last year.

“I think we will be fine.”

Folkers expects to graduate next spring and then has two options of either attending the Todd Becker internship at Kearney and if not, she might attend Northeast Community College to study to be a crime scene photographer.

“I really like photography and crime scene photography is something I’ve been really interested in,” Folkers said. “I did a job shadow with the instructor up there. It was really interesting, and I think it could be fun.

“I mean it sounds awful, but I definitely wouldn’t be bored.”

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