Editor’s note: This is the first in a series examining religious values held by student athletes. The stories will run on Wednesdays in the Collegian over the next two weeks.
There are a lot of factors that make senior volleyball player Katelin Batten unique. First, she wears a different color jersey than the rest of her team. Second, she is listed as the shortest player on the team at a massive height of 5 feet 5 inches. Third, she built her life and her success at CSU on a higher power.
Batten is a Christian, a devoted follower of Christ who uses her faith to propel her in life and athletics. Once bored and fed-up with the routine of church and faith, Batten says she uses her belief to propel her as a leader in one of the most successful CSU athletic programs: volleyball.
Before coming to CSU, the Colorado native had slipped off the path of God, but a connection to Athletes in Action allowed her to resurrect her faith and dedication to Christ as well as bring her beliefs onto the court to create a better player, friend, teammate and leader./
She always lightens the situation and has a way of bringing people together, said teammate Tessa Nelson. She just works hard and makes the other people around her better.
In addition to praying before every game, Batten has a pre-game routine called “audience of one. She picks an empty seat in Moby Arena and visualizes it being occupied by God, the ultimate motivator. Since Batten believes that she plays only because God has given her the opportunity and the ability, there really is no one else to impress.
“Whenever I look at that seat, it reminds me of why I’m playing, and it kind of brings things into perspective. And it actually takes a lot of the pressure off of playing,” Batten said.
One could think that with her life in God’s hands, a player could lose the drive that made her worthy of a full-ride scholarship, but Batten is unique. Batten says that while she believes God has a plan for her after her time at CSU, He also gave her the ability to play for a little while, and she knows that playing the game of volleyball and having fun while doing it is the plan for now.
“I know this is where I’m supposed to be. I know that (God) has called me to Colorado State to play volleyball here, so I’m going to play as hard as I can,” she said.
She did come to CSU under mysterious circumstances. After committing to play at the University of Northern Colorado, Batten received a phone call that led her to Fort Collins and her dream of playing in green and gold. The coach of the Bears told Batten that he, and his offer to play there, would be leaving UNC to become a Smoky the Bear Firefighter. This left Batten with one remaining year of high school and nowhere to play after graduation.
That, and the dropped commitment of a player who had made a verbal to CSU, placed Batten on the back line at Moby Arena, leading to her development as one of the best players in the Mountain West.
The reason Batten wears a different color jersey is because her position, libero, requires her to be noticed./Liberos, who specialize in defensive digs, can’t set, can only be located on the back line and can come in and out of the game at will.
Batten has excelled at the position and others are taking notice.
“She is a great serve receiver, and she is very aggressive and can cover a lot of space,” said head coach Tom Hilbert. “She can dig really good hitters. They can blast the ball, and she’ll pick it up.”
Hilbert also called Batten the best libero in the Mountain West Conference, playing in all 110 games last year, while recording 463 digs with an average of 4.21 digs per game to set two new school records.
Whether or not it’s God’s influence that made Batten into the player she is may never be proven, but what has are her abilities on the court — and those are heavenly.
Sports writer Keith Robertson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.