Heather Gneiting came home from school one afternoon and told her mom she wanted to join her high school’s track and field team and participate in the high jump to gain extra credit in her math class. Her math teacher was the track coach, and Pleasant Grove High School was in need of a high jumper.
During her first meet, she got her stepping wrong and ended up falling underneath the pole onto the mat. Heather said she could have decided to quit after her clumsy start, but she was determined, and she earned every bit of extra credit her teacher offered her.
“She worked at it and worked at it,” Heather’s mom, Kristin Gneiting, said. “Most people at that point in track have private coaches, and they’re trying to get scholarships. It’s just amazing. She ended up getting second in state and getting up on her little podium. Just imagine when she puts her mind to something.”
This wasn’t the first time Heather picked up and excelled in a hobby because she set her mind to it. In junior high, she joined competitive cheer as a back-spot without having taken any gymnastics classes. In order to try out for the team, she was required to be enrolled in at least one class, so she convinced her mom to sign her up.
“I told her that I thought she was getting a late start with her long body, but she learned a series of back handsprings before tryouts and ended up making the cheer team,” Kristin said.
Heather didn’t begin volleyball until she was in eighth grade, and began receiving college offers two years later when she was a sophomore in high school. She chose to attend BYU after touring the campus because of the atmosphere and successful volleyball program. She is a sophomore now.
The Gneitings have a history of attending BYU. Kristin and her husband, Tom, met when they were in college. Kristin was a Cougarette and Tom was on the BYU men’s basketball team from 1984-87. Heather wasn’t the first of her five siblings to choose BYU; both of her older brothers graduated from BYU in business.
Playing volleyball is a common theme in the Gneiting family. Heather’s two older sisters played volleyball in college. Heather had the chance to play against her sister, Megan Gneiting, twice when the Cougars faced Weber State. By choosing to play volleyball at BYU, Heather is keeping the family legacy alive.
Heather isn’t a loud person, but she knows how to have fun. She can be seen dancing with her teammates in the weight room and, on occasion, during matches. She and outside hitter McKenna Miller sometimes team up to teach middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg dance moves. The sophomore said she admires her teammates and enjoys their differences.
“Everyone is really different in their own way, which is what I like about our team a lot,” Heather said.
Heather was named national Freshman of the Year last season. She also represented the United States in Japan at the Under-20 World Championships and tried out for the Olympics. She’s proved to be an integral part of the team with her 313 kills and 215 blocks.
Heather said about being named Freshman of the Year, “It was really cool to be at such a high level as a freshman, and it gave me confidence for these next years.”
Heather said she looks forward to seeing what her next few years at BYU will bring.