Jimmies' Demars and Hegerle enjoying life outside of NCAA DI level
Both players are the first DI transfers to the team since Heather Bachman in 2016.
JAMESTOWN — The No.2-ranked University of Jamestown is being helped by two NCAA Division I transfers this season.
The transfers are Kalli Hegerle from North Dakota State University and Maddie Demars from Fairfield University (Conn.). The two have combined for 169 kills, 330 assists and 39 blocks. While this is Demars’ first year in the program, this is Hegerle’s third year as a member of the Jimmies.
Although for different reasons, the Jimmies knew about both Hegerle and Demars before the two stepped foot on campus. Jimmies head coach Jon Hegerle has known Kalli Hegerle for her entire life as he is her uncle, and he recruited Demars out of high school.
“It was really the team culture and when I was being recruited again, I went to a lunch and spoke with Kalli and Kaydn (Mehring) and talking to them and the coaches and I could tell how much they loved each other and love it here and I felt at home,” Demars said.
Both Hegerle and Demars transferred to find better fits as Hegerle said she didn’t like the time commitment that was necessary at the highest level while Demars wanted to be closer to her hometown of Forest Lake, Minnesota.
“It wasn’t the place for me and being at Jamestown, I’m closer to home, which is good that I get to see my family more,” Demars said. “It’s still far enough away where I’m on my own so I love that part of it as well.”
Before she decided to come play for the Jimmies, Kalli Hegerle said her uncle called her and asked if she wanted to visit the UJ campus.
“It wasn’t super long,” Kalli Hegerle said. “He just called me and asked if I wanted to keep playing volleyball and I said, ‘I don’t really know.’ So, I came on a visit and the same thing I just loved it and so I didn’t really look at any other places. I got lots of emails but I just knew I wanted to stay close to home and do something else, so I thought I’d try UJ and fell in love with it.”
Jon Hegerle said he loves coaching his niece and his daughter, Grace, this season because he gets to spend time with his family.
“On one side it’s absolutely wonderful, a strengthened relationship and I get to spend time with some of the people that I love most in this world with Kalli just because of her athletics and we were always living in different areas,” he said. “She was my niece so I was around her more than other recruits but I certainly didn’t know her beyond just watching her grow and blossom as a person and other different interests that she has.”
Kalli Hegerle said the biggest difference between the Division I and NAIA levels is she has more time to explore those other interests now.
“I think it’s still super, super competitive. I mean playing at a very very high level, almost equivalent actually, but I feel like I just have more time,” she said. “I took up photography and I made my own business out of that, so I’m doing that on the side. Obviously, we still practice every day and lift and do those things but it’s just not as time consuming I would say.”
She said her and Demars have talked about what it was like to play at the Division I level and have helped each other navigate life as an NAIA athlete.
Despite committing to Fairfield, Demars never actually suited up for the Stags as she suffered a shoulder injury before her freshman year. Jon Hegerle noted that one of her weaknesses on the floor was her lack of playing time as she went almost two years from graduating high school to the start of the Jimmies season without playing.
During that time off, Demars said she realized how much she loves the volleyball.
“I would say that it gave me insight to how much I really do love volleyball and what the sport has given me,” Demars said. “It’s been a lot of really good friendships and relationships and has taught me to work even harder for the things that I love. It’s also shown me that I can overcome a lot of things if I work hard through it.”