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Benson’s Hampton went extra mile to hone volleyball skills

David Samson / The Forum Concordia senior and Benson native Kayla Hampton fires a shot against St. Catherine University at Memorial Auditorium in Moorhead.

MOORHEAD — Since high school, Kayla Hampton has been driven to excel at volleyball — and has logged the extra miles to prove it.

The Concordia senior and Benson native drove more than 400 miles some weeks — in her final two years of high school — to play for a club team.

“When Kayla decides to do something, her passion, you can’t stop her,” said Melissa Hampton, who is Kayla’s mom.

The drive from Benson to Marshall is about a 140-mile roundtrip. She at times had three practices per week for a club season that lasted about four months in the spring and summer.

“I really went out of my element and I played for a club team in the spring time. Nobody did that at Benson,” said Kayla, who was a three-sport athlete in high school. “It was a huge commitment.”

That extra road time is proving worthwhile for Kayla, who has developed into one of the top hitters for the Cobbers in her final college season. She is averaging 2.12 kills per set, which ranks third on the team. The 5-foot-10 middle hitter leads the team in with 62 blocks through 21 matches.

“She is someone who has maximized what she has,” Cobbers head coach Tim Mosser said. “She is someone you can always count on.”

Kayla has always been able to count on her mom throughout here athletic career. Melissa was also a three-sport athlete in high school at Benson. They both played the same three sports — volleyball, basketball and track. Melissa played volleyball and track and St. Cloud State for one season.

On her Concordia bio, Kayla named her mom her “volleyball hero growing up.”

“She’s supported me through everything,” said Kayla, who wants to run a marathon when her college volleyball career is over. “I can’t thank her enough.”

Melissa sometimes drove with Kayla to the club practices in Marshall if Kayla was too tired or had to do homework. Melissa said Kayla was also in jazz band in high school.

If Kayla had jazz band practice at 7 a.m. before school that made for a long day when she also had either basketball or track practice before club practice.

Kayla’s club volleyball practices were from 7 to 9 p.m. so she wouldn’t get home until after 10 p.m. on those nights.

“It was crazy, actually,” said Melissa, whose maiden name is Eckhoff. “She has a passion for that sport where she would have done anything to play at that level I think.”

Concordia (14-7) is tied for first in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with a 5-0 league record. St. Thomas and Augsburg are also 5-0 in the MIAC. The Cobbers play at St. Thomas (18-1) at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

It hasn’t always been a smooth road for Kayla at Concordia. She played sparingly as a sophomore. However, that didn’t stop her from working her way into a starting role the past two seasons.

“She put her heart and soul into it,” Mosser said.

Eric Peterson
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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