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Trio of Kamps bolster volleyball program
By Lynn Rosendale

Senior Rebecca Kamp remembers a time when she and her younger sisters spent a lot of time playing volleyball together. “We used to pepper in the backyard for hours,” she said. “We would completely wear the grass away.”

Other than the location, not so much has changed over the years. Kamp and two of her sisters still spend a lot of time playing volleyball together. Now, it’s just more likely to be inside Calvin’s Van Noord Arena, where Rebecca, Lizzie and Stacey are all members of Calvin’s volleyball program.

Rebecca, now a senior, was the first Kamp to decide to play for Calvin. “I love playing with my sisters, but I really wanted them to make their own decisions about college,” she said. “I told them all the great things about Calvin, but they also got to see how homesick I was at first. I’m a little bit jealous because they got to watch me go through the first year and see how things progressed.” [ Becca was named Capital One Academic All-American of the Year.]

Rebecca said she knew how much Lizzie would be able to help out the team by coming, but didn’t want to pressure her. “When she told me about her decision, I said, ‘Watch out NCAA’ because I knew she would be a huge addition to our team.”

Turns out Rebecca’s words would be prophetic as the Knights—led by the two oldest Kamp sisters— would win a national title in Lizzie’s second season. “It was definitely a draw that she [Rebecca] was here,” said Lizzie, now a junior. “I really was looking forward to another opportunity to play with her.” Following in the footsteps of an older sister who is a four-time All-American can be a bit daunting at times, but it was a challenge to which Lizzie has stepped up.

“I always have a goal to be as talented as Rebecca,” said Lizzie. “It’s never gotten to a point where I’m upset I’m not as good as her. I do sometimes look at the box score, and if I’ve gotten more kills than her, it’s a little extra sweet—not in a jealous or envious way, just in a way that feels like I’ve played really well.”

Lizzie has proven that she’s talented in her own right, earning All-MIAA first team recognition last year and All-American honorable mention. (She was named a second team All-American this year.) This season, the two sisters were joined by sister Stacey, who joined the program at the junior varsity level but was added to the varsity roster for the tournament run.

“Obviously, I knew a lot about the volleyball program at Calvin,” said Stacey. “I knew how good the program was and how much fun it was to play here. I knew it would be nice to get extra encouragement from my sisters, who have already been through a lot of the stuff I would be going through.”

Having three sisters in the program at once is a unique situation for Coach Amber Warners: “We’ve had three sisters before, but not at the same time. …They have made major contributions to elevating our program to a national level. They have also helped in keeping this program grounded in with their excellence in the classroom, work ethic and Christian character.”

While they bring some similar characteristics to the team, they are all different, too. “Becca is very motivated in excelling in every area of her life; she wants to be the best teacher, volleyball player and friend. Her expectations for herself are extremely high,” said Warners.

“Lizzie is a little more carefree but has a competitive edge to her that I would not want to play or coach against. She is an extremely well organized person that thrives on schedules, lists and charts, but she also is one of the first to play silly, competitive games on the bus. I have never heard Lizzie complain about anything whether it be verbal or nonverbal communication.

“Stacey is one of the happiest people I know. She works very hard, never complains and is eager and diligent in the things she works toward. She is very mature for her age and fun to be around.”

While the three siblings enjoy the time together, it’s the whole volleyball program that brings them joy. “It’s just so fun,” said Lizzie. “It’s fun to play as sisters; it’s fun to play at Calvin; it’s fun to play with Coach Warners.”

Despite the impending graduation of Rebecca this spring, the Kamp tradition could go on; there are two younger volleyball-playing Kamp sisters still at home in Chicago: Maggie and Anna.

“I don’t want them to be pressured to come to Calvin,” said Rebecca. “Someone once asked me, ‘Where would you want to be at college if you had a cast on your leg and couldn’t play volleyball?’ It’s about more than volleyball; you should choose your college for more than just your sport. For me, I would choose Calvin 100 times over. …God is definitely working here. Calvin has changed how I think about life, how I think about my major, how I think about most things. Volleyball has been a great part of my experience, but it’s only been a part. It’s everything else, too, that has made Calvin the perfect place for me.”