It’s a shame, really, that Kristi Piedimonte’s days setting volleyballs have come to an end. Before graduating from Kennesaw State University in December, Piedimonte was named First Team Academic All-America by the College Sports Information Directors of America, making her the first KSU student in any sport to receive the distinction. But maybe saying goodbye to her glory days on the court is not such a shame after all. Piedimonte, who graduated with a 4.0 in nursing, is all about teamwork and there are plenty of patients who could use her on their team.
Q: How did you end up at Kennesaw State?
A: I am from St. Louis and so is our head coach, Keith Schunzel. Coach Keith was in St. Louis recruiting and saw me at a tournament and I guess he thought I was the right fit. I wasn’t taking this whole Kennesaw State thing seriously at first but it so happened that my club team was traveling to Atlanta and I decided to stop by the campus. I said to myself, “The nursing program is great. The campus is beautiful. I love this coach and the way he believes in the program.” The school was a perfect fit for me and the best decision of my life.
Q: How did volleyball become your sport?
A: I grew up in a volleyball family. Both my parents played and coached. All of my siblings played. I remember at a very young age going to my parents’ practices and playing volleyball on the sidelines and shagging balls. I was in the second or third grade when I joined my first official team. Volleyball is a very mental game. I remember Coach Keith saying one of the reasons that he recruited me is my volleyball IQ, how well I know the game. He credited that to my dad.
Q: What is the setter’s job?
A: People who know volleyball compare it to a quarterback or point guard, the player who runs the offense and gets the team going. I have been setting since I started. I guess I like being in a leadership role and in control of things.
Q: How did you play sports and maintain a 4.0?
A: A lot of prayer. I definitely did pray a lot about my academic performance but I studied quite a bit, maybe too much. My first couple of semesters, I struggled to find a balance between studying and enjoying life. A lot of people ask, “How did you do it as an athlete?” My question is, “How do you not do it?” I needed the balance of the two because volleyball gave me much needed breaks from nursing and sometimes nursing did the same when I needed a break from volleyball.
Q: Are nursing and volleyball alike?
A: They are. They both challenge me, mentally and physically. In both areas, I had to learn how to work with a team. In nursing, you are working with other nurses on your unit. I learned to work with a team through athletics. A lot of people don’t experience teamwork but it is something that I guess I just took for granted. Coach Keith taught me and our team so much about utilizing all of our resources and appreciating and respecting those who put in the work.
Q: What kind of nurse do you want to be?
A: I did my senior practicum in the trauma intensive care unit at WellStar Kennestone. I really like that and I will start the residency program there in March. It is humbling to take care of trauma patients who are dealing with such dramatic situations. That could be you or me someday. I also like labor and delivery, which is also a very emotional moment but a happy one. Maybe I am just attracted to highly emotional settings.
Q: Are your volleyball days over?
A: That is such a bad thing to think about. Unfortunately, I am probably done playing competitively, as much as it kills me to say that. I am sure I’ll end up in some adult league trying to be too competitive.