Gretta Kirkby

Chico State |


The senior from Kensington, California has faced many obstacles during her four years at Chico State. Like many freshmen, she was overwhelmed with the stress and responsibility of being away from home and the added pressure of being a collegiate student-athlete. Although she had previously struggled with anxiety, it never reached a point where it dramatically impacted her life.

After spending nearly two years at home during the pandemic, she experienced intense anxiety returning to campus and re-integrating herself into the college environment. Additionally, several injuries that kept her off the court along with the tragic death of former Chico State women’s volleyball coach Cody Hein (who had recruited Gretta), contributed to an onslaught of issues with anxiety.

For the first time, anxiety was paralyzing her and affecting her daily life. Suddenly, getting out of the house and going to volleyball practice felt impossible, and it wasn’t something that could just change overnight. However, with a caring support system of teammates, friends, and family, she was able to seek counseling and get the additional help she needed to persevere and get back on track.

“Dealing with my anxiety these last two and a half years, after a rough first two years of college, has been the most challenging and trying experience of my life,” explained Gretta. “I have learned so much about myself throughout my college years. I understand the magnitude of the impact that mental health has on people’s lives, and the importance of getting help. Every day, healing and practicing selflove are needed to keep a sound mindset. I have so much more compassion for people who suffer with anxiety and depression, and I want to help encourage and motivate anyone, especially student-athletes, to speak up and get help.”

In her four seasons, Gretta proved to be one of Chico State’s most versatile players, logging time as both an outside hitter and defensive specialist, while also being an effective server. She racked up nearly 100 kills, 151 digs, and 21 service aces in her Wildcats career, and contributed to the team’s success in ways that didn’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet.

Gretta has been successful in the classroom as well, earning seven California Collegiate Academic Association (CCAA) All-Academic honors, three Division Two Athletic Directors Association Academic Achievement Awards, and the 2020 CCAA Volleyball Championship Scholar Award. Following graduation this month, with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology and two minors in Nutrition and Sports Performance, she plans to shadow health care workers in a variety of fields to help chart her future.