Chris Leahy Gottwalt, ’87 - Red Knight Distinguished Alum
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In late summer, 1983, IWA volleyball coach Teri Clemens whistled the start of training for the upcoming volleyball season. The Red Knights were defending state champions that year and were hoping to again challenge their opponents for the state crown. Joining Coach Clemens, senior star-hitter Margaret Yanics, and the team's returning veterans were three freshmen – Chris Leahy, Kathy Bersett, and Lisa Patterson. When these three freshman hopefuls graduated four years later, they had become an integral part of the IWA dynasty that achieved five consecutive Missouri Class 3A State Volleyball Championships. Chris was totally involved during her years at IWA, and excelled at almost everything she did. With a cumulative GPA of 4.2, she was her 1987 Class Salutatorian, member of the National Honor Society, president of her senior class (she had been treasurer of the junior class the preceding year), member of the Journalism Club, sports editor/reporter for the school newspaper from 1983-86, and co-editor in chief in 1987. In volleyball, she was a varsity member of three State Championship teams (1984-86) and the starting setter in 1985 and 1986. Chris was co-captain of the team in her senior year, together with her lifelong friend from Our Lady of Loretto Parish, Kathy Bersett. In the volleyball off-season, Chris played basketball for coach Jim Johnson for three years. After graduating from IWA, Chris attended Colgate University in Hamilton, New York on scholarship, and received a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science in 1991. She graduated cum laude with a GPA of 3.3., was a member of Phi Alpha Theta History honor society, and was on the Dean's List from the spring of 1988 through graduation. Volleyball remained a major part of Chris' life during college, and she played a key role in coach Janet Little's varsity volleyball program, acting as team captain during her junior and senior years at Colgate. Her Red Raider volleyball teams were Colonial League Champions in 1987-89, and Patriot League Champions in 1990. Chris was named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll in 1990. Following her years at Colgate, Chris spent two summers in Washington, DC, interning for Missouri U.S. Congressman Jack Buechner and Missouri U.S. Senator Christopher Bond, before joining the U.S. Navy, where she served aboard the USS Cape Cod before receiving an Honorable Discharge in 1994. Chris began her coaching career in 1995 at Royalton High School in Minnesota for two seasons before moving to the United States Naval Academy as Assistant Women's Volleyball Coach and Assistant Compliance Director from 1997-2000. She returned to Minnesota in 2000 to become the varsity girls' volleyball coach at Foley High School and the junior high track and field coach. Since the fall of 2001, Chris has been a key member of the technical support staff at St. Cloud Hospital in St. Cloud, MN. She lives in Little Falls, MN, on a small farm with her husband John and their three children – Samantha, Johnny and Cadie.