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Kate Buikema, Class of 2021

Greta Hoogstra has always gotten a lot of comments—from strangers and friends alike—on her height. At 16 years old, Greta is 6’2. She’s been the tallest girl in her class since she came to Timothy in kindergarten. Every once in a while, Greta may lament her inability to find a pair of jeans that are long enough. But that height— combined with natural athleticism and intellect—has taken her twice to the podium at national volleyball championships, to being named an All-Conference player on Timothy’s team in 2019, and now—to play Division I volleyball at Colgate University in New York.   

Despite that resume, the first thing that strikes you when talking to Greta about her accomplishments is her humility. She’s quick to turn red at a compliment, and even quicker to play-down her talents. When asked what makes her a good athlete, she laughed, “Genetics really helped me out here—I’ve got super big hands, really long arms—just a big person in general.” 

Her parents noticed that advantage when she was younger, and signed her up in first grade for the obvious choice: basketball. Then, in 2nd grade, softball. Greta was a cut-above in both sports, but it was on Timothy’s seventh grade volleyball team that she found her true love. “It was something I picked,” she said. “It was another sport where being tall was helpful, and I was like “Oh I’m tall! This will be perfect.” It was no surprise that after her first year of volleyball, Greta was ready for more. When her Timothy coach told her about a club team the girls could try out for, Greta jumped at the chance.  

Now you’d be hard-pressed to spot Greta outside of a gym after school. She still plays basketball—she’s played center on varsity since her sophomore year—as well as softball—where she’s been first basewoman on varsity since her freshman year. And of course, Greta plays volleyball with both Timothy’s varsity team and her club team, First Alliance. 

At the peak of her athletic season, she juggles five to six practices a week for basketball, plus a couple of two and a half-hour club volleyball practices, and sometimes fourteen hour tournaments on the weekends. On top of that, there are the two or three weekend trips for her big volleyball qualifier tournaments. 

All of that hard work has paid off, though. For just a glimpse at the tip of the iceberg: her club team has placed third and fifth in the nation in the past two years, and last year, Timothy’s volleyball team advanced all the way to Super-Sectionals, whereafter Greta was named an All-Conference player.  She’s been courted by college athletic recruiters since her freshman year. 

But not only is Greta a top-tier athlete, she’s in the top of her class. Between her practices, or in the car, or late at night, you can find her cracking open one of her five AP textbooks. She’s a National Honors Society and Spanish Honors Society member, and up until this year, took courses in two different languages. Greta is also the only person in the known universe whose favorite academic experience was the proofs in Freshman Honors Geometry. She practically lights up in AP Calculus. 

Plus—just in case there was a spare minute in her day—Greta also plays the upright bass in the orchestra and recently took on a part-time job at a grocery store. 

All of this begs the question: how in the world can one person juggle all of these activities at once, and get stellar grades, and be a champion athlete, and be as humble as Greta is? Greta credits it to her community—all of her coaches and teammates, and all of her other friends that she’s been able to grow close to over her many years at Timothy. “I really enjoy that Timothy is small, because I can have relationships that are really strong,” she says. “I’ve been around some of these people since I was five years old.” 

This summer, after her spring sports were cancelled, she found herself reaching out to her friends and texting them more than she used to. Her parents remarked that it was probably because she wasn’t spending four hours a day with fifteen people. “It’s really nice to have that community,” Greta explained, “especially because there’s a lot of overlap between volleyball and basketball, I’m really close to those girls.” If there is a volleyball season this year, Greta is more than ready to see her team again, and all of them have their hopes set on going to state. 

Even though the immediate future is uncertain as far as her high school athletics, Greta is lined-up for even more success after high school. Her athletic and academic achievements inside and outside of Timothy have attracted the attention of an array of colleges, eager to have a student-athlete on their volleyball team. But this summer, Greta made her decision and committed to attend the prestigious Colgate University in New York on an athletic scholarship—she’ll be playing Division I volleyball there next fall.

Even if she won’t say it herself, there’s clearly a lot in store for this multi-talented senior. Whether it’s her athleticism, her intellect, work-ethic, or sheer height—Greta Hoogstra dominates.