March 22, 2014
Boca Raton, Fla. -
“I decided to transfer from Valparaiso to FAU and convinced Kristi to commit as well so we could play together,” said Chelsey. “Just speaking to Head (Indoor Volleyball) Coach (Fernanda) Nelson on the phone about the team and university was enough to convince me that FAU was where we should be. As a transfer, my biggest thing was having a coach you could trust, and I knew I could trust her.”
“Our decision was between FAU and South Carolina,” said Kristi. “But there was something about FAU and South Florida. What’s not to like?”
The sisters, from Solon, Ohio, came to FAU in Fall 2013. Chelsey, a sophomore, transferred from Valparaiso after playing in 20 sets over the course of 11 matches as a freshman. Kristi was a first team All-Conference selection all four years of high school.
They both played nine sports up until middle school when they decided to focus on volleyball. They did not get to play together until they attended Solon High School. Chelsey, who played basketball until her sophomore year, gave up the sport to focus solely on volleyball.
“I fell in love with volleyball when I saw Kayla Jeter, Derek Jeter’s cousin, play in high school and at the University of Tennessee,” Chelsey said. “She was a role model for me, and I aspired to be like her because she was so talented and dedicated to the sport.”
Parents Ruth and Rod Tekavec both attended Kent State and participated in athletics. Ruth was a gymnast and Rod played football. The duo also competed on the TV show American Gladiators in the late 1980’s. The Tekavecs’ younger sister Dena, a sophomore in high school, also plays volleyball.
“We do what we do to give Dena someone to look up to,” said Kristi. “She has been playing with 18-year-olds since she was 11. We hope she will be the third Tekavec to come to FAU.”
This year, the duo’s goal is to win the indoor conference championship and make it to the NCAA tournament. After graduation, their dream is to play professional sand volleyball as a team.
“Our goal in 2014 is to put FAU on the map,” said Kristi.
“As for our future plans, I would like us to be featured in USA Volleyball magazine,” said Chelsey. “That would be a great honor and help get us exposure coming out of college. We won’t accept not playing pro.”
The girls, both communication majors, plan to go to California this summer to participate in tournaments in order to truly see what they will be up against once they leave college and learn what areas they need to work on.
This year is the second official season for FAU sand volleyball. The sport is not officially recognized by the NCAA, but programs are growing rapidly across the country. Chelsea has not been able to play as her sister’s partner since she sprained her ankle in a tournament four weeks ago. She hopes to start in the meet against Stetson on April 2.
The Owls will play their next sand volleyball meet on Tuesday, March 25, in Miami, FL in the FIU Pairs Tournament. The indoor season will start this fall. For more information about either sport or future event dates, please visit FAUsports.com.