Family the foundation for Langenkamp

 WKU volleyball won 3-0 against Troy at Diddle Arena on Friday Sep. 21, 2012.

Elliott Pratt

Freshman middle hitter Noelle Langenkamp was born into a family where athleticism was a tradition.

Her father and uncle both played tight end for Ohio State. Her mother, Carmen Langenkamp, received offers to play college basketball during high school.

Noelle started playing basketball when she was 4. For the majority of her childhood years, she never gave a thought to the idea of playing any other sport on the court.

A volleyball coach at (Cincinnati) Ursuline Academy asked Carmen if Noelle would be interested in playing volleyball.

“I didn’t want to play,” Noelle said. “I had never played volleyball before and I had always been into basketball.”

It didn’t take long until Noelle discovered a love for volleyball.  

When she decided to  give up basketball, people were shocked, she said, especially her father, Steve Langenkamp.

“I was totally blown away because we didn’t know a whole lot about volleyball,” he said. “We kind of laughed about it, but we let her do what she wanted. When she let go of basketball, it was really tough on us, but it was her decision and we got behind her.”

Noelle made an impact on the volleyball court immediately. In her sophomore year, Ursuline won the Ohio state championship and finished as the No. 2 team in the nation.  

The two-time all-state selection set the school’s single game record for blocks with 13 and holds the career record with 275. Langenkamp never lost a regular season game until her junior year.  

“I was drawn to her immediately at the AAU Championship in Orlando,” coach Travis Hudson said. “She’s a big kid with really long arms and has a really good feel for the game.”

Langenkamp originally didn’t think much about WKU.  

But after her official visit, she found herself comparing other schools of interest, like Georgia, Dayton and Xavier, to WKU.   

“As the process continued, my dad pointed out to me that I was comparing all of the bigger schools to (WKU),” Langenkamp said. “Towards the end I just kept coming back to Western Kentucky.”

The 6-foot-2 freshman has fit right into Hudson’s system in her freshman year. Hudson credits her “athletic mindset” and family support to her success.

“What she’s trying to do this year is very difficult,” Hudson said. “Walking in the door and playing the middle hitter position immediately is not easy. It’s very complex.”

Steve said his daughter is always trying to get better, and compared her to a sponge.

“The one thing she would always do is lean on my wife and myself and say ‘Hey Mom and Dad, what do you guys think?’” Steve said. “She is really like a sponge. She absorbs everything you throw her way with an accepting spirit.  

“She’s always analyzing how she can get better.”

Noelle said during her short time as a Lady Topper, she sees improvement in her game.

“I already see myself getting so much better mentally,” Noelle said. “I feel like my life as a player and as a person I’ve been improving, which is all you can ask for.”