“More Than Just an Athlete”

AKimberly Drewniok sees volleyball as her personal “bridge to the world”. And thanks to her extraordinary skills with the ball, the 25-year-old has often been able to use this bridge to get to know many people and different cultures. With the German national team, but also with clubs in France, Italy and Turkey. Now it was time for the professional player to start “a new chapter”.

“Letskeeptheballflying” is the name of the project in which the athlete from Sauerland is involved. For this she traveled to Bali, where she is currently acting as an ambassador for the charity organization in a volleyball camp. “I’m in love with the mission,” says Drewniok in an interview with the FAZ: “I don’t get anything for it,” she says – quite the opposite: she finances it in a certain way, has collected material beforehand, brings balls, nets and sports clothes with.

“It’s about giving as many people as possible access to the volleyball community,” she explains her motives: “I want to share joy and euphoria.” “Give inspiration” through personal commitment, she says: “That’s what I want to strive for.” Following the charted path in her career, Kimberly Drewniok would be on the ball in Japan at the moment. The German women’s national team is playing its first Nations League games in Nagoya these days – it started with a 3-1 win against the Netherlands – but it was the best Germany’s diagonal attacker no longer plays along. Kimberly Drewniok announced last week that she would like to end her career in the national team after 85 international matches.

Attacker Drewniok: “I love the sport.”

Image: picture alliance / press photo Baumann

“Life is a series of chapters,” she said, now it’s time for a new one. She didn’t make this decision lightly, she assures, but her “work-life balance” has slipped in recent years because of the tightly scheduled sequence of league seasons with the clubs and events with the national team. “How do I want to live?” was the question she asked herself. “I’m more than just an athlete,” was the answer, with the help of which Drewniok explains her very personal view of her own nature: “I’m also a daughter, sister and friend and much more.”

National coach Vital Heynen regrets the decision. “I would have liked to have had her there,” says the Belgian: “She would have brought us a lot as a person and as a game.” Heynen recognizes a general trend in the early career end of the diagonal player, which he, as a performance optimizer and self-confessed workaholic, does not like. “In Germany, unfortunately, far too many players stop far too early.”

Captain Jennifer Janiska only resigned in October after 204 international matches, at the age of 29. And last year, setter Denise Imoudu had stopped at the age of just 26 – not only with the national team, but with the sport as a whole. Her friend Drewniok, who is also the godmother of Imoudu’s child, doesn’t go that far. “I still have goals that I want to achieve, and I want to improve athletically.”

The athlete from the small town of Balve recommended herself for well-known positions in the strong European leagues via VC Wiesbaden and SSC Schwerin and played well for Savino del Bene Scandicci, ASPTT Mulhouse and most recently Sariyer Belediyesi in Istanbul. Also in the coming season she will act in Turkey. “I’ll definitely remain a professional,” she assures: “I love the sport.” But even more than the vague hope of qualifying with the German national team for the 2024 Olympics in Paris or playing for medals at the European Championships this summer , she is driven by the prospect of making as many children smile as possible through her volleyball project.


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