Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan


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Kristine Pelky: A Family Found Among the Sports

Hayley Niewohner
The team listens intently to their coaches during a time-out.

Motherhood is not easy. In fact, it is often considered one of the most strenuous jobs in the workforce, and yet, when around the right people, the weight of being a parent can feel as though it has been lifted from your shoulders.

Kristine Pelky, the assistant coach of Winona State University’s Women’s Volleyball Team, has found just that while working among the Warriors.

Pelky, originally from Cheyenne, Wyo., began her volleyball career at the University of Sioux Falls, where she played middle blocker throughout her four-year attendance while obtaining her degree in education. She would also act as the Cougars’ graduate assistant coach for two years while earning her Master of Business Administration degree.

She then landed in Madison, Wis. for a fleeting time where she worked as a middle school teacher and coached club volleyball.

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After an exciting couple of years spent getting her bearings and racking up experience, Pelky would choose Winona State as her next new beginning.

She is now in her fifth year working as the assistant volleyball coach and has since settled into the Warrior community with her husband, Drew Pelky, and their two children, Michael and Natalie.

“After playing and coaching in the NSIC previously, I was excited to get back into the most competitive conference in DII volleyball,” she said. “Winona is also obviously in a beautiful area and has been a great place for us to start our family.”

Pelky is playing a bigger role than with other programs that she has coached for. Such a position comes with much greater expectations for both the staff and the players, but she has no problem meeting them with her excellent communication skills, and vast volleyball knowledge.

She instills confidence in her players and provides crucial feedback when necessary. She is also acknowledged as an excellent scout for other teams.

“She scouts other teams so well that we know what we are getting ourselves into before the match even begins,” Taylor Pagel, a fourth-year middle blocker said. “She does a great job of providing us with things to get better at and encourages us throughout the ups and downs.”

Her excitement, aside from joining a successful and competitive program, also came from the opportunity to work and learn under current head coach Joe Getzin.

Though, aside from the excellent coaching experience, one of the greatest experiences with her team has been seeing the girls mature both on and off the court, even after having a tough season last year.

Her players can contend with her skills on the court, and the way in which Pelky’s children have become a part of the team in their own way.

“They bring a different type of energy and positivity to our gym,” Pagel said. “We have loved getting to watch them grow up!”

The Winona State athletics department has an extremely family-friendly culture, which makes the balance between work and parenthood much simpler for Pelky.

Both her children frequent the Integrated Wellness Complex when childcare is unavailable. Attending camps, practices, and meetings, the supportive work environment provides a safe space for both Pelky children to thrive with a group of girls who also love to have them around.

Though, Pelky knows she could not do it without her other half.

“I would never be able to balance this job and my family if it weren’t for my husband,” she said. “He is a single parent for a good chunk of the year.”

Because Pelky is on the road so often while competing or recruiting, her husband’s support is necessary when it comes to success in her job.

Overall, her abilities on the court have exceeded Warrior expectations, and the impacts that she has made by combining her career and her homelife has certainly created memories that both her children and the student athletes will remember for years to come.

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About the Contributors
Kailey Doeseckle
Kailey Doeseckle, Sports Editor

Kailey Doeseckle (she/her/hers) is the Sports Editor for the Winonan as of fall 2023. Doeseckle is currently in her third year at Winona State University, majoring in Criminal Justice: Corrections and Justice Services with a minor in Psychology.

In addition to working for the Winonan, Doeseckle is also a part of the Wenonah Players club. She participates in their theatre productions as both an actress and a crew member.

Outside of university, Doeseckle loves to spend time with her roommates binge-watching their favorite shows, dancing to music, and singing quite off-key to musicals.  She also enjoys watching movies, creative writing, and board games. Doeseckle also loves meaningless drives to blast all her favorite songs, and spending lots of time outside in fall weather.

Hayley Niewohner
Hayley Niewohner, Sports Photographer
Hayley Niewohner (She/her/hers) is a Sports Photographer for the Winonan and started in the fall of 2023. Niewohner is a first year at Winona State University majoring in Nursing. This is Niewohner's first year in anything for publication, but she has many years of experience taking pictures during sporting events in high school.
In addition to working for the Winonan, Niewohner is a Desk Assistant in Sheehan hall.
Outside of the Winonan, Niewohner loves spending time with friends outdoors, lifting in the gym, trying out local coffee shops, going to concerts, and watching sporting events. She also enjoys cooking, making chocolate, and doodling.

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