Steamboat volleyball’s Wendy Hall named league’s best coach
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For many Steamboat Springs High School volleyball players, the night of a match isn’t complete when they walk off the court, or even when they walk out of the locker room.
It’s not complete until they share a hug with coach Wendy Hall.
“Wendy holds kids to a high level. She has high expectations for her teams and holds her athletes to a high standard,” Steamboat Springs athletic director Luke DeWolfe said. “At the same time, she creates a very positive culture within her teams and also creates very solid relationships with those kids through the course of their four years with her. They care about Wendy, and Wendy really cares about them.”
The Western Slope League seems to care quite a bit about Hall, as well. She was selected as the league’s coach of the year for the second time in the last three years and the 10th time since she took over the program in Steamboat in 1989.
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It’s a somewhat expected honor when she’s at the helm of a league championship squad, she said. Years like this, with an 11-11 record and a fourth-place finish in the league, it’s a surprise.
She pointed to her staff, assistant coaches Hannah Gary and Emily Jones, and to her players.
“It’s always an honor to get that,” Hall said. “It’s a total reflection on what this team did. It’s so very nice of the coaches to throw that my direction, but it’s not just me. It’s my staff. It’s the kids in this program. It’s a nice honor for the whole program.”
It was a trying year, Hall said. The squad started 4-0 but lost nine consecutive matches, including its first four in Western Slope League play.
Steamboat started the season with high hopes, but those had slipped away by that ninth loss.
The scheduled lightened somewhat at that point — the Sailors beat the bottom two teams in the Western Slope, Summit and Rifle — but the team itself began to play better, and that showed in the second circuit through the league.
Steamboat beat two teams it had lost to on its first go-around, Battle Mountain in three sets and Palisade, then leading the league, also in three sets.
Steamboat closed its season with one of its best matches, albeit a loss. It was a spirited five-set affair with league champ Eagle Valley.
Plenty of that was thanks to a turnaround on the court. Plenty was also thanks to the work off — the work that shows up in those post-game goodbyes.
It’s not usually like that with the underclassmen, Hall said. But, by the time a player grows to be a junior or a senior in her program, they’ve logged so many hours in and out of season together it comes naturally.
“That’s the stuff that keeps me coming back,” she said. “That’s the stuff you don’t find in most jobs, those connections, and having the honor and ability to influence their life a little bit, hopefully for the better.”
Plenty of people notice.
“Wendy does a lot on and off the court with her kids, and that really shows up in terms of how they perform and how she’s able to progress a team from the beginning of the year to the end,” DeWolfe said. “She does that as well as any coach, and that really shines through with the other coaches. They really identify with that — that she’s able to get the most out of her kids through the course of a season.”
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