Volleyball coach goes from cold to Carbondale
Kari Thompson is trading the frozen tundra of Fargo, North Dakota, for the rolling hills of Southern Illinois.
Thompson was hired recently as the volleyball coach for the Southern Illinois University (SIU) Salukis after serving in the same role at North Dakota State University (NDSU) since 2011.
“One thing i’m excited about is being in Illinois and the community here,” Thompson told the South Eastern Illinois News. “It’s definitely going to be a bit easier recruiting people to Illinois than it was in Fargo.”
Thompson had a 66-38 record in Summit League play in her six seasons at NDSU. Since coming to SIU in May, she has been busy getting her coaching staff in place and visiting potential recruits. Now she is looking forward to getting to work with her team.
“I think offensively they already run a really fast offense,” Thompson said. “One area I know I can have an impact on is our middle attacking. I think that’s an area we can get better at. The other one is the defensive side. I want our defense to give our offensive side more of an opportunity.”
Thompson said that while she wants to implement a few changes, she doesn't want to stray far from things that have worked well in the past.
“With six returning seniors returning, I don’t really want to mess with their technique, because I think they have some really good things established," she said.
NCAA regulations have prevented Thompson from meeting or holding practices with the team until August. She said she is eager to get the season started and wants to make the most of the time she has with the team before classes start.
“We have two weeks of preseason practices,” she said. “Then classes will start, and our opening weekend is the first weekend after classes start. So we have two weeks, and then everything gets a bit chaotic once classes start.”
SIU Director of Athletics Tommy Bell said in a press release that he sees Thompson as a great fit for the Salukis.
"During the search process, I was impressed with her passion for coaching and the commitment she has demonstrated to developing young women as students, athletes and people," he said in the press release.
Last year the Salukis finished fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference and ended the season at 21-12. Thompson said the MVC is one of the top volleyball conferences in the country, and she is looking forward to helping the team continue to grow and compete.
“One of the things that made this job attractive is that the Missouri Valley volleyball conference is known across the country as a great volleyball conference,” Thompson said. “It has really high-level volleyball and sends multiple teams to the NCAA tournament.”
Another key element that made Thompson want to make the move to Carbondale is the support that the volleyball team receives.
“I think that something that’s really important to the program is support for the university,” she said. “When I visited here it was really evident that volleyball is important to the community, and that is really exciting.”
The Salukis will kick off their 2017 season on August 25 against Western Kentucky University. SIU’s first home game will be on August 29 against Arkansas State University.
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1263 Lincoln Drive
Carbondale, IL 62901