How gifted is Paige Brimeyer?
Her hardware would tell you the senior's an All-American volleyball hotshot for St. Thomas, as her powerhouse volleyball program takes aim Thursday at a second-straight D-III championship, hosting the first-round NCAA Regional.
But really, how talented is the right side hitter?
Well, as a sixth grader in Dubuque, Iowa, she once was the starting running back – yes, running back – for a flag football team.
"At summer camp, they were putting nine people on the court for volleyball, and that's not volleyball. So I asked my mom if I could play flag football instead and she let me," she said. "We would center plays around me, and one guy got mad because I was playing over him (at running back). He was just too slow."
In addition to a slightly unnerving obsession with pop icon Adam Levine, and the fact she's already got a job lined up post-graduation – here are eight reasons why Brimeyer should be your favorite person to follow this NCAA postseason.
Her squad has swagger – for good reason
Brimeyer isn't the only star for St. Thomas. There's also All-American Kelly Foley, and last year's NCAA tourney Most Outstanding Performer Jill Greenfield.
Oh, and St. Thomas started the year ranked No. 1 before finishing the regular season ranked No. 4, with a 28-2 mark and a seventh-straight MIAC title in tow.
"We had the vibe this year right away, we only lost our libero Kaiti Wachter from last year's team. This team is full of juniors and seniors who have been playing a lot together," she said. "My gut is we are going to win (the title) again. We hate losing."
She trumps trash talk
Brimeyer always checks out the Twitter handles of rival St. Ben's players leading up to the Tommie/Bennie clash.
"They'll say 'Can't wait for the game,' and 'We're going to kill the Tommies,'" Brimeyer said. "And that just fires us up even more."
Back in September, the Tommies swept St. Ben's 3-0. Then in the MIAC playoff championship Saturday night, Brimeyer personally bid adieu to the Bennies in a five-set thriller. With the fifth and deciding set at 14-13 in UST's favor, Brimeyer shut the door.
"I would say that was the most competitive we've been as a team this season," Brimeyer said. "And getting that last kill felt so awesome."
She was only the third best player on her HS squad
Brimeyer had two teammates from Hempstead High School in Dubuque go Division I. However, one of them ended up quitting and the other plays for a doormat program.
So it's actually Brimeyer's career on the court that shines brightest.
"I'm sure they saw we won a national title on Facebook," she said.
She took 150 credits instead of the 132 needed to graduate
That's because the road map for public accounting demands it.
So Brimeyer spent her January Terms and her summers hitting the books.
After a tax intern role at Christopher & Banks – "It was fun, but I never once walked into their store even though I got 50 percent off of everything" – she's already been hired as a tax associate at McGladrey after she gets her degree.
She leads a UST leadership group alongside Dan Noehring
The Student Athletic Advisory Committee is steered by two of UST's star athletes/role models.
"We organize the fall community cleanup, work with Special Olympics and hold a shoe drive," she said. "And we were in charge of the homecoming pep fest."
She's 3-1 against Nicaraguan national teams
St. Thomas spent seven days taking on Nicaragua's best earlier this year – in addition to giving back.
"We did service work like playing sports with the kids, doing arts and crafts, and then helping them with English," she said, as UST won three of its four games against Nicaragua's best. "And then we did touristy stuff like zip lining and surfing."
Her mother is UST volleyball's biggest fan
Not only was Lisa an assistant high school coach for her daughter Paige, the mother has the odometer to prove she's Tommie volleyball's most dedicated superfan.
She commutes up from Dubuque for Every. Single. Game.
"She brings Rice Krispie treats that are chocolate and caramel," Brimeyer said. "She'll be more upset than me after the season is over."
The Iowa gal is a Minnesota convert
In addition to embracing the Twins and Timberwolves, she's loving the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
"I just went to WE Fest, and up until winning the national championship, it was the best moment of my life," she said.
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