Atiemo adjusting fast to college, NIU

Freshman+middle+blocker+Charli+Atiemo+%28middle%29+leaps+to+perform+a+spike+against+Wisconsin+on+Sept.+18+at+Victor+E.+Court.

Courtesy of NIU Athletics

Freshman middle blocker Charli Atiemo (middle) leaps to perform a spike against Wisconsin on Sept. 18 at Victor E. Court.

Carlos Finney Jr., Sports Reporter

In just her first year, freshman middle blocker Charli Atiemo has already become one of the key players on the NIU volleyball roster. 

Every athlete has that moment where they find that love for the game they play. Atiemo’s spark came from her mother, a former volleyball player at the University of Maryland.

“I fell in love with the game through my mom,” Atiemo said. “My mom played D-I volleyball. I was so curious. At eight years old, she put me in, and through her, I learned to love the game, but I also found my own passion for it. I just love the team sport and having friends on and off the courts.”

Freshman middle blocker Charli Atiemo winds up for a serve on Sept. 18. Atiemo has quickly grown into a starter for the volleyball team. (Courtesy of NIU Athletics)

Atiemo comes from Milford, Michigan, where she attended Farmington Hills Mercy High School before attending NIU in 2020. Atiemo and her team finished with a 33-2 record in 2020 and won the district championship. Atiemo was a finalist for Michigan Miss Volleyball as a senior. 

Atiemo led Farmington Hills to a Division-I state championship and three consecutive Catholic High School League titles over her high school career. She was a two-time all-CHSL first-team selection, selected All-Region three times and was a first-team All-State honoree two times. 

Being a freshman as a college athlete is a big adjustment with handling classes, homework, practices and games. Atiemo spoke on what she has done to adapt to the college lifestyle as a student athlete. 

“I’m going to be honest, it’s hard, and I find myself struggling some days,” Atiemo said. “I try to tell myself to just take it one day at a time, and the struggles don’t last forever.”

Atiemo said she looks to the more experienced players on the team for guidance on and off the court to get more comfortable in the college environment. One of those players is senior and fellow middle blocker, Jasmine Kemp. 

“Coming in, I already had a lot of respect for Jasmine because she’s been such a good leader for this program for such a long time, so coming in, she was really helpful to me,” Atiemo said. “Giving me great points and tips every day, I would say she’s one of my cheerleaders when we’re out there on the floor together.” 

As a senior, Kemp wants to make sure that all the freshmen know what is going on and never feel loss on and off the court. She spoke on her experience coming in as a freshman and not really having a senior to look to for guidance. So, for freshmen like Atiemo, she wants to be that support. 

“As a senior, you want to make sure the freshmen know what is going on,” Kemp said. “I wish I had a group of seniors like our group of seniors, but, unfortunately, I didn’t. It’s nice to know (Atiemo) doesn’t feel lost and has no problem coming to me for help on the court and outside of volleyball as well.“

Outside of volleyball, Atiemo has other aspirations for her time at NIU. Atiemo, a biology major, hopes to become a doctor. 

Atiemo’s studies continue to progress forward, as does the volleyball season. As of right now, the team sits with a record of 8-7 and a conference record of 2-3. Atiemo looks to continue to be a key part of the Huskies’ success, with 13 games still remaining on the schedule.