Fifth year good choice for Concordia’s Opfer


Camryn Opfer needed to come back to Concordia University anyway.

The fifth-year senior wanted to finish her Master of Business Administration degree. When it came to volleyball, a sport she’s played for years, she was torn.

The choice was more mental than physical, she said. She knew she could continue to play at the high level CU plays. But did she want to?

“My friends have graduated,” she said. “I have two lives – college and outside.”

Opfer decided to use her Covid year to play one more season of volleyball.

“After Park at nationals, when I was on the court, I knew I wasn’t done,” she said.

Those of her friends who were graduating were emotional following the season-ending match. Opfer was too, but she knew there was more to come.

The choice was a good one. Opfer recently reached 1,500 kills for her career and already topped 1,500 digs, and the Bulldogs began the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament Nov. 4.

It’s not about the accolades for Opfer. She came back because she didn’t feel like her work was done.

She’s been able to build relationships with the players on this year’s team and is thankful for that opportunity.

“I’m experiencing lasts officially,” she said with a smile.

She knew the Bulldogs would do well this year. The team reached No. 1 in the NAIA for the first time in program history.

“I knew it was possible to reach No. 1,” she said. “It’s rewarding to know that’s where we’re at.”

Opfer graduated from Seward High where she played volleyball, basketball and soccer. The move to the collegiate volleyball game required some adjustments.

“It’s a different pace. The front row blocking is different,” she said.

Where she could power through blocks in high school, now she had to develop a strategy to work around them.

She’s also become a more vocal leader on the team, which was a change for her.

New coaches was another adjustment. Opfer said the Boldts (Ben and Angie at Concordia) and Tom Pallas at Seward High have different approaches. For the Boldts, coaching is a full-time job. For Pallas, coaching is in addition to teaching.

“The team dynamic is more emphasized,” Opfer said of the Boldts’ philosophy. “That’s part of the success is how often we’re together.”

Having a strength and conditioning coach was also important, she said. They tailor a workout program based on a player’s position.

Opfer also learned more of the importance of eating right and staying hydrated.

“They do play a role,” she said.

College was the first team for Opfer without a sister on the court with her. Rylee, who played libero, is a year older, and Jaci, a setter, is two years younger. They played a lot of volleyball together.

“We would play volleyball when we were bored,” Camryn said.

She expected the connections on the court at Concordia to be similar to those she had with her sisters. That wasn’t the case.

“It takes time,” she said.

Opfer is a rarity in college volleyball – a six rotation player. That means she’s on the court for the whole match, playing both front row (offense) and back row (defense).

“I like back row better,” she said. “I like to serve and pass. The back row gives me confidence for the front row.”

When she started at CU, she said, she wanted to play all six rotations, but that had to be earned.

Although her degree is in accounting, Opfer said she’s not a stats person.

“I don’t pay attention to them,” she said.

She knows they’re there, but they give her the opposite of confidence, she said.

She and her Bulldog teammates came into the 2023 season with goals in mind – win the conference and nationals, if possible.

“We wanted to get better each day,” she said.

When Opfer is not in the classroom, at work or on the volleyball court (“my planner is very detailed,” she said with a grin), she enjoys spending time outside. She takes walks with her dog, a retriever/collie mix, and likes to go to the lake.

Once the volleyball season is over, the schedule doesn’t slow down. She tries to get over to Centennial to watch her youngest sister Tyler compete.

She currently works for Gabriel Burger and Else in Seward.

She will take her test for certified public accountant. She and her high school sweetheart, Brogan Fehlhafer, will be married in May.

Looking back over her time on the volleyball court, Opfer said she wouldn’t change her career.

“I’m grateful for the opportunities with this program,” she said.