When Molly (Mull) Kling showed up at Northwest Nazarene University in the fall of 2002, she did not know the impact that her time in Nampa would have and continues to have on her life to this day.
Growing up in a small town outside of Portland, Kling went to a small public high school and developed into a good volleyball player, allowing for a chance to be recruited by NNU. With the opportunity to play college volleyball and the support of her parents, Kling decided to make the trek to Idaho, which remains one of the most influential decisions in her life.
“I came to NNU as an 18-year old kid and have never really left,” said Kling. “Even with a few years working off campus after graduation, I have spent more time at NNU than anywhere else in my life.”
Kling attended NNU and played volleyball for four years, from 2002 to 2005, before graduating in the spring of 2006 with a degree in Business Administration. After eight years working in the marketing department for Home Federal Bank, she returned to NNU as the Athletics Office Manager. Over the last nine years, she has worked her way up the ladder in the Athletic Department to the position of Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing and Development, a title she has held since the summer of 2022.
In 2002, Kling quickly realized that NNU was the right place for her as a student and an athlete. The relationships that were made and the lessons learned had an incredible impact. Being in a new place with people from all kinds of backgrounds and experiences was very influential, whether it came from professors, her volleyball team or other students.
One particular professor and class she looks back on fondly was an ethics class taught by Dr. Ralph Neal.
“Ethics opened my eyes to the circumstances of many people whose lives were different than mine,” said Kling. “I learned new ways to love and gained a much more holistic worldview.
“I felt like I was more equipped to go out into the world, and it has been a large influence in how I interact with others on campus as well as how I raise my children.”
That ethics class and many of her business and marketing classes were instrumental in setting the tone for her work ethic and standard of excellence that she strives to achieve in her professional and personal life.
Kling also credits her time spent on the volleyball team as contributing to her development as a person while at NNU.
“The relationships that I formed on the volleyball team with my teammates and coaches have remained a big part of my life,” said Kling. “They loved and cared about me, and the relationships were and are true and authentic as I am still surrounded by these people to this day.”
While in the NNU volleyball program, she experienced the leadership of two different head coaches. She started with Deb Bradburn for three years from 2002-04 before playing her senior season under the direction of Jared Sliger.
“Deb was such an inspiration to all of us on the team,” said Kling. “She was in better shape than half of us and instilled a great work ethic. I still remember many things she told us and will quote them to my children now when they are playing sports.
“As a team, we all wanted to be great for her, perform well and make her proud, driving us to be our best at all times. She set a wonderful example, from her devotions to her work ethic, and remained positive despite any struggles or hardships we may have experienced.”
Jared Sliger took over the volleyball program in 2005, and Kling looks back fondly on the one season she had with him as a coach, despite how short their time together was.
“Jared jumped right in and took such good care of all of us,” said Kling. “I was particularly appreciative of how he included my husband Dan when he could. I was the only married player on the team that year, and he welcomed Dan as a part of our family.”
That welcoming and inclusive theme at NNU continues to be evident to Kling the more years she spends on campus. Family is the number one priority in her life, and she loves that leaders on campus and her coworkers have understood that and have helped and accommodated her whenever necessary to make that a reality.
Kelli Lindley has been especially instrumental as a mentor and friend. Lindley, now NNU’s Vice President for External Relations after spending eight years as the Director of Athletics, was Kling’s supervisor on campus for all eight of those years.
“Kelli has been such a massive mentor and transformative light during these last eight years,” said Kling. “I have always been so impressed by her and the relationships she is able to form with others. She was a great boss and hard worker, and her family did not suffer at the expense of that work ethic—setting a prime example for how I wanted my professional life to be.
“When Kelli took over, she took the time to get to know me and my plan,” said Kling. “I have taken a few leaves of absence with maternity leave over the years, and I was fully supported and able to pick right back up where I left off each time, with Kelli’s full understanding, having done the same herself.
“I have been fulfilled professionally but not at the expense of my family, which I love and has been a true blessing. I’ve been surrounded by mentors and others that are family people and have contributed greatly to my NNU experience.”
Now in her new role as Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing and Development, Kling desires that everyone who interacts with NNU from off-campus can know and appreciate how great Northwest Nazarene University and NNU Athletics is.
“I want people to see the value of NNU,” said Kling. “Donors, community members, fans, anyone that comes into contact with our brand and our people. I want everyone to feel valued, and I want to establish true partnerships with them.
“We are the only NCAA Division II athletics program in the State of Idaho, and we have some of the best athletes in the nation right here in Nampa, and I want as many people as possible to know about that.
“I don’t necessarily interact with many of the athletes on a day-to-day basis, but what I do directly impacts them and their NNU experience. I want that to be just as good, if not better, than my experience as a student-athlete.” Kling’s experiences at NNU and the habits she has formed as a result have led her to where she is now. She enjoys being able to have an impact on those students that are in the same place that she was.
“I know what it is like to be involved in different aspects of campus and understand the transformative power of NNU for students, faculty and staff,” said Kling. “I believe that NNU was the best place for me and can be the best place for many more students and staff in the future because people here genuinely care about others and want everyone to succeed.”
“All the relationships I have made here have helped instill loyalty in me and given me a great appreciation for what NNU has to offer, and I hope to have a hand in leading many more people to realizing and experiencing the same thing in the years to come.”
Header—The Athletics Staff, featuring Molly Kling
Article Insert—Molly Kling, Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing and Development