“Close Knit” family helps Reitsma transition to life in Milwaukee

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Jenna Reitsma (4) is a first-year outside hitter from Lowell, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Growing up in the small town of Lowell, Michigan, which has a population of just over 4,000 people, the adjustment to a city with a population just under 600,000 people has been a smooth one for volleyball first-year outside hitter Jenna Reitsma.

“The transition has been good, it’s definitely different, but it hasn’t been a bad change,” Reitsma said. “It’s cool to be so close in walking distance from different things. I mean back home, we always had to drive (everywhere).”

Reitsma said part of the transition has been dealing with not being near her “close-knit” family, where she is one of five children and has a twin brother.

However, she said she still feels their support from afar.

“We’re all very close, (a) very athletic family,” Reitsma said. “We get along so well but it’s been great too. They still support me here even though I don’t see them all the time. It’s been really nice to have that support.”

While her family is a six hour car ride away, Reitsma said her parents will be in attendance at the Al McGuire Center to watch one of her first home games this weekend.

“They’ve been there supporting me so much throughout everything in my life and really been there for me,” Reitsma said. “They’ve helped me get to this point so this being like ‘this is real’ and they’re watching me play in college is just surreal.”

As it is for many first-year’s, Reitsma said the adjustment to the speed and competition of the game at the collegiate level has been another transition and Reitsma plans to use the experience around her to adjust.

“It’s gonna be great for me because I can learn so much from them and they have been in the spot I’m in. So they have been helping me grow and being around them gives me those opportunities to learn and get better.”

Reitsma had a decorated high school career at Lowell High School. As a team captain her junior and senior year, she led the Red Arrows to back-to-back conference titles, a regional and division title as well as a second-place finish at state in 2019.

Individually, Reitsma found her way into the record books.

In 2019, she amassed the most kills in a single season in school history with 873. She also racked up a All-State Second Team selection in 2018 and a All-State First Team selection in 2019.

During Marquette’s 4-3 season opener win against Texas A&M, Reitsma received some time off the bench in three of the five sets. In her first collegiate game, she recorded two kills and two digs.

Reitsma said though she had some nerves before her first collegiate match, they went away once she hit the court.

“Going in, you think you’d be nervous but once I got on the court it was just a great feeling and there is just nothing like it,” Reitma said. “This is what I have been working for and to be able to play competitive high-level volleyball is just a rush of excitement. But at the same time you’re so focused on everything, it’s a very cool experience.”

Reistma joins an already experience outside hitters group with graduate students Taylor Wolf and Hope Werch, redshirt senior KJ Lines and redshirt junior Ellie Koontz.

Despite the crowded unit, head coach Ryan Theis still expects Reitsma to contribute.

“She’s gonna score some points for us this year, get some front row, back row. She does a lot of good stuff and we’ll use her in different capacities throughout the year,” Theis said. “We used her some for Ellie, we used her some for Hope and we used her some for Hannah in that first weekend. We’ll look for her to help in a lot of different ways.”

Reitsma said she is ready to help contribute in any way that she can and use the experience in position to learn and get better.

“This season I’m really willing to do whatever they put me in because I know there are some great outsides and some great players that returned,” Reitsma said. “Although it’s crazy to have so many people, it’s gonna be great for me because I can learn so much from them because they’ve been in the spot I have (been in). They’ve been helping me grow. Being around them gives me those opportunities to learn and get better.”

Her effort and willingness to learn during the Golden Eagles’ practices has been taken notice by her head coach.

“It’s great to work with her,” Theis said. “She’s working on some of the techniques that we use and it’s obviously a little bit different than what she has learned or what she’s been taught in the past but she’s trying her absolute best at it and I see her thinking out there on the court. She’s working to get better and we appreciate that as coaches.”

With all of this in mind, Reitsma’s mindset is set for her first-year.

“My mindset this year is to be able to soak in any of the things that they are able to teach me, the coaching staff, the players, (and to) just find my rhythm and to be able to grow as a player,” Reitsma said.

This article was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at jackson.gross@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JacksonGrossMU.