What is your favorite part about coaching your team?

My favorite part of coaching this volleyball season is watching our players get excited for one another and to celebrate one another’s successes. And ultimately, it’s the people. I love my players like my own. I love my assistant coaches. Being willing to give your whole self and heart to a group, and to feel that reciprocated by all involved is the best feeling. 

How have your coaching techniques changed this season due to COVID-19?

Our protocols have changed quite a bit. We do not use the locker room, we have many sanitization procedures, we have changed our timeout protocol to allow for distancing and we take the athlete’s temperatures each day. In addition, I have found that I needed to spend additional time, outside of our normally planned time, on the emotional side of our team. The impact of COVID-19, and the stress and changes surrounding it have impacted everyone. We’ve become more intentional about identifying the player’s emotional needs and working hard to meet those. 

In your mind, what traits make a good leader?

The best thing about leadership is that it is not a one-size-fits-all kind of glove. Each athlete can be developed into a leader, in her own right. Some lead by example, with their accountability and work ethic. Some lead by meeting the emotional needs of their teammates, being the supportive and caring teammate on the court. Some lead with their in-match, or in-practice communication, providing clarity and focus for their teammates. I think leadership is all about developing each individual’s strengths and providing clarity on what it means to be a good teammate. If we all strive towards being good teammates, the leadership comes naturally. Leadership, when it comes down to it, is really working to be your best self for those around you. 

How do you think the current COVID-19 environment has impacted athletes on your team and across the state?

As a result of the distributed leadership and guidance in the state of Iowa, the impact is really varied, depending upon the guidelines your school district chose to put in place. For our lower level athletes, when we had 2 nets set up, the crowd was restricted to only immediate family. This meant less fans could attend, and perhaps excluded some friends and extended family members from viewing their games. Our athletes have traditionally had a great time on bus rides, with music and friendship. This season, we have less athletes on the bus, and some athletes who travel exclusively with their parents. Our schedule is like a moving target. This year, we added a home tournament and jumped into another tournament when there was an opening. There are great upsides to this, but also during the regular season, you always had the “what if” looming regarding whether a playdate would happen or not.  

What have you have learned from your time coaching in Iowa as a member school of the IGHSAU?

Wow, what respect and admiration I have for the IGHSAU. I value the absolutely student-athlete centered approach of the IGHSAU. I think they get so many things right. The time, effort and true thoughtfulness put into the rankings leads to the best teams getting into the state tournament each year. The state tournaments that the IGHSAU puts on are just top notch. The level of play and the player experience are consistently as good as it gets each year. I have always appreciated the opportunity to be an Iowa Girl, both as an athlete and now as a coach.  

What is your favorite inspirational quote?

“You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you can’t have both.” - Brene Brown 

What advice would you share with student-athletes just getting started in athletics?

The most important part of succeeding as an athlete or as a person is a growth mindset. If you’re unhappy with where your skills or game IQ are, the response is “not yet.” You’ll get there, with vision, dedication, determination and the commitment to continued improvement each opportunity you have to step into the gym.

- Spotlight written by Noah Christensen, Waukee APEX Associate

IGHSAU Coach Spotlights are created by high school students in Waukee High School's APEX program. The IGHSAU is thankful for its partnership with Waukee APEX to create meaningful content to share with our member schools, student-athletes, coaches, and fans. To learn more about Waukee APEX, click here.