Dual-sport athlete motivated by family


Story by Jessica Lane

On the court, she’s the varsity libero. On the field, she’s the starting centerfielder. In the classroom, she’s an education major.

While juggling school and athletics may come as a struggle for some, senior Renata Dill has found the motivation to play not one, but two sports while attending Baker University.

“I always think about who I’m playing for and why I’m playing this game,” Renata said.

During her junior year, Renata’s father and best friend, Les Dill, suffered from a heart attack and underwent a triple bypass surgery just two days after her birthday.

Renata says her dad is her biggest fan and thinks of him every time she steps on the field or court. Remembering her father allows Renata to stay positive and driven in athletics and academics.

“You can’t quit,” Les said. “Because you don’t quit. Once you start something, you see it through.”

In addition to her father’s trials, Renata idolized her two older sisters who played volleyball through high school. Their influence has also motivated her to become the athlete she is today.

While she didn’t see much time on the court in her first years as a Baker volleyball player, Dill has put in enough work to perform at the varsity level.

“Last year was my first year starting,” Dill said. “I think I underestimated myself and didn’t realize the things that I could do.”

The Manhattan native has played 358 volleyball games at Baker University and stands at No. 28 in the NAIA for digs in a game.

“(Being libero is) something I’m best at,” Renata said. “When college came, I knew this was the position I wanted to focus on. I love playing defense.”

Renata has accumulated 497 digs so far this season, short of her 575 total last year. She looks to practice time to focus on serve-receive and defense.

Renata finds inspiration from head volleyball coach Kathy Allen, who reminds the libero to never give up and move on to the next play if she makes a mistake.

Even when Dill isn’t performing her best, she always counts on her mom and dad.

“I’m very proud of her,” Renata’s mother Son Dill said. “She’s grown mature. She’s not a baby anymore. I’m so happy.”

After graduation, Dill hopes to keep athletics and academics in her life by teaching at the elementary school level and coaching kids.