D’Ambra Kruger of Goessel embarked on a cross-country move with her family in the summer of 2010 to North Carolina, not realizing how much her Midwest roots meant to her.
“My dad was transferred through his work at Spirit,” she said. “We moved to New Bern just after July 4, enrolled in a really good school there and tried to make it work.”
It did not take long, however, for Kruger to find there was no place like home, no place like Goessel, and no team like her volleyball girls at Goessel High School.
“It wasn’t that we didn’t go to a good school, or that the people weren’t nice,” she said. “I just realized very quickly that I will always be a Midwest girl. When you grow up somewhere, the community and the school you go to shapes you a certain way. I missed living in the country; I missed so much about living and growing up in a small town.”
There were others in the Kruger family having difficulty with the change from rural to city life, and after much discussion, Kruger, her mother, and younger brother moved back to the Goessel area.
“My dad was so supportive,” she said. “He wanted us to be happy and we just weren’t that there.”
The three Krugers moved back to Kansas early in 2011, while dad, Denny Kruger, stayed in North Carolina to complete the rest of the two-year transfer for his job with Spirit.
“We miss him so much and get to see him on holidays and some weekends,” D’Ambra Kruger said. “But we are counting down the days that he can come back for good in mid-April.”
The move for D’Ambra has been good, and helped her fulfill a life-long dream of playing volleyball at state.
“Volleyball is definitely my sport,” she said. “I play basketball too, but volleyball is my life.”
Kruger was part of a close-knit and successful Goessel High School volleyball team as a freshman and sophomore, but was in North Carolina when they qualified for the state volleyball tournament in 2010. Coming back to her team and the community was not completely easy, though.
“It was difficult to find where I fit in again,” she said. “The girls were so happy to have me back and welcomed me with open arms, but I had some big shoes to fill and changes to make.”
Kruger had played outside hitter before leaving Goessel and at her school in North Carolina, but on moving back, had to adjust to fill the space at middle hitter.
“I had some very big shoes to fill at middle hitter,” she said. “But I was determined to make myself a leader and be helpful to this team.”
Kruger said one reason she loves volleyball so much is that it is a complete team sport.
“No one person makes a team successful,” she said. “The entire team has to work together and communicate in order to win. I just came in and filled a spot.”
Kruger said she was very proud of her team’s recent success as sub-state champions and state tournament qualifiers.
“We played very well together and I am so proud we were one of the top eight teams in the state,” she said. “It speaks a lot for our coaches, our team, and our school. We had so much support from the fans too.”
Kruger, a senior at GHS, said she hopes to play volleyball in college and is looking at several KCAC colleges.
“My main priority is to stay close to home because my daddy will be back here for good in April and I want to be able to see him every weekend,” she said. “I also want to find a good pre-med program.”