Reporting Shane Kitzman
Take a moment and learn about Kaiti Wachter, her mother, and even her grandmother.
You won’t be disappointed you did.
As good as the All-American defensive specialist is for the talented Tommie volleyball team, her mother, Sue, is an even better motivator — a source of unceasing strength.
If doctors were never wrong, Kaiti wouldn’t have led Division III St. Thomas (32-5 in 2011) to the elite eight last season, let alone be born.
A drunk driver collided head-on with Sue’s car at the tender age of 19. It left Sue held together by rods and screws while battling severe daily pain.
Sue’s simple ability to walk again parallels miraculous.
Then Sue had three children, and her spirited cheerleading for Kaiti from the sidelines of both volleyball – and life – knows no bounds.
“She’s my rock,” said Katie, who helped take Eastview High School to the state title game as a prep star. “She’s always positive and upbeat. If I’m ever feeling down she’ll say, ‘Kaiti, stop and count your blessings.’”
Sue helps Kaiti see the grander picture in life.
“We wish we had a nicer car, a bigger entertainment center, less homework,” Kaiti said. “All of which are trivial things, when we should be grateful and thankful for all of the opportunities that are given to us. My mom has taught me to live by three words — respect, kindness and compassion. I constantly work on being more positive and going out of my way in order to help others.”
Where does Grandma Helen Ekblad come into play?
Well, when Kaiti isn’t too busy at her nearly full-time internship at Northwestern Mutual, tending bar on Friday nights at Jake’s City Grill, or refereeing sand volleyball in Eagan, she’s being the kind of granddaughter that would make Disney movies blush.
“Every Wednesday I bring my Grandma lunch from Taco Bell,” Kaiti explained. “I always ask, ‘Wanna go to Applebees? Maybe Panera?’ But no, she always wants Taco Bell. Afterward I make her bed, clean her house and hide chocolates around her home. She just loves it.”
Oh, and the All-MIAC, All-Region and 2011 MIAC Defensive Player of the Year has serious life goals set in place, to boot. She’ll spend another four years as a Tommie after graduating undergrad — she’s already accepted to the St. Thomas Law program to get her J.D./M.B.A.
“I don’t have much free time – I spend a lot of it helping my brother rebuild the house he bought in Bloomington,” said the business law and leadership, and management double major who boasts a 3.67 GPA. “And I live at home to save money. I’m planning to buy a house when I graduate from law school.”
As for the 2012 Tommies she’s captaining on the volleyball court, Kaiti holds lofty goals. One year removed from being one of the final eight teams in the nation, and now being the odds-on favorite to dominate the MIAC, Kaiti wants a national championship trophy.
“We should be at nationals and everyone is so willing to work this year,” she said. “I think we can do it.”
The Tommies’ No. 1 hustler exudes positivity, and that’s something that can be credited to Sue.
“For every negative thing, it takes three positives to bring you back up,” Kaiti said. “So I always stay positive. I believe what you put out in the universe, you get back.”