Chisholm takes the court for ‘Cats

When JuliAnne Chisholm steps onto the basketball court this fall in Kansas State Univer­sity’s Bramlage Coliseum, she’ll bring with her a work ethic she learned closer to home.

“Definitely, my work ethic was established in Hillsboro,” said Chisholm, a 2007 Hillsboro High School grad. “I spent a lot of time in the weight room. Our practices were hard and they were hot.”

Those high school practices paved the way for a rigorous college schedule that includes daily sessions lifting weights and sometimes running court drills and practices.

“We were constantly going, and that’s the way it is up here,” Chisholm said.

Though she is now in her second year as a K-State basketball player, Chisholm may be better known for her four years on the Wildcat volleyball team. Her senior season, she was second on the team with 317 kills as the Wild­cats went 12-19.

Chisholm was recruited for both sports in high school, but after a disappointing junior basketball season, the recruiters’ focus shifted to volleyball.

“I’ve never regretted it,” she said, referring to the volleyball option at K-State. “I had a wonderful time and made wonderful friendships.”

One of those friendships has a family connection, too. Her cousin, 2010 Hillsboro alum Dakota Kaufman, now plays volleyball at K-State.

The two played volleyball together for one season at HHS.

“We had a great group of girls and it was a lot of fun,” Chisholm said. “It was hard work, but we made the work a blast. Everything we did ended up being successful because we were having so much fun.”

Their team finished third at state in 2006. Chisholm ended her high school basketball career with a state championship in 2007.

“We were all really good, we had everything we needed,” she said. “It turned into a fabulous one-hit-wonder season.”

Though Chisholm ended up playing volleyball at the Division I level, she never lost her love for basketball. So, with her final season of volleyball drawing to a close, she decided to ask K-State head coach Deb Patterson if she was eligible to play.

“There was one part of me that said, ‘What if I could have played basketball?’” Chisholm said. “If I never would have asked, I would have regretted it for my whole life.”

Chisholm said the transition from a high school athlete to play at the Division I level was not without its bumps.

“The speed of the game itself was the biggest transition for me,” Chisholm said, adding that high school and Division I competition are not even comparable. “Everyone’s bigger, faster and stronger when you get to the next level.”

Chisholm faced an even greater challenge after being away from basketball for four years.

She said conditioning for volleyball and basketball are on different ends of the spectrum. Chisholm could jump for volleyball all day, but struggled to breath running up and down the basketball court.

“It took longer for me to get my legs underneath me and at the same time I was trying to learn plays—it kind of hit me like a hammer,” Chisholm said. “Now I feel like I’m starting to get back in the groove.”

Chisholm hopes to help her team equal or surpass its success this year in a conference that keeps getting harder. Last season, the Wildcats finished 21-11 and made the NCAA tournament.

Chisholm played in 24 games, started five and averaged 10.5 minutes per 40-minute contest. She averaged 1.2 points and 1.5 rebounds while accumulating 12 steals.

This season, 10 of the 18 teams K-State will be playing have made Final Four appearances, Chisholm said. To experience success will require not just physical ability and hard work, but also mental toughness.

The weight room is where the physical and mental come together for Chisholm.

“You do a lot of hard things that you don’t think your body can do,” she said. “But you can. It’s all about mental toughness.

“It takes a lot of hard work preparing your body and your mind. Even if you are talented, you still need to put in the hours.”

Chisholm said high school athletes who hope to compete at the D-I level need to put themselves out there in summer tournaments and other showcase environments.

“(College) coaches don’t see you when all you do is play high school sports,” she said. “They don’t know about you. So, you go play at tournaments because that’s where they go recruiting.”

Chisholm’s hard work gave her the opportunity to make it to big-time college sports not just once, but twice.

She said her two favorite memories of playing at K-State involve Wildcat victories at home.

In the volleyball victory, Chisholm hammered the last two game-winning kills against Texas A&M in a 3-2 win at home her junior year. “It was so emotional, I played so well,” she said.

On the basketball court, her most memorable moment was a win in Bramlage against the Aggies, who were then ranked No. 5 in the country.

“It’s the highest seed we’ve ever beaten here, and they went on to win the championship,” she said. “It was kind of a miracle game as well.”

Chisholm hopes to make more special memories on the hardwood this upcoming season, but for now she’s thankful just for the chance to compete.

“It’s a blessing,” she said. “There are so many people who want to do it and they don’t get the opportunity. I never dreamed I’d get to play both (sports), and I’m so grateful.”

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