‘Coach Grandma’ adapts to changes

For The Tribune

Linda Luedeman said she received a phone call this summer wanting to know if she could be interested in coaching the Crothersville varsity volleyball team, and once she received an OK from her family, it was easy to say yes.

“It’s been wonderful,” Luedeman said. “I’m glad I received that call. “This is an excitable group, and you know when they’re up, and you know when they’re down. They show their emotions. A lot of that is from that youth. It’s just an exciting bunch of girls, great young ladies.”

This year’s team doesn’t have a senior on the roster.

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“We have a core bunch of juniors that have stuck together throughout time, and then we have a group of sophomores that have been together, and a freshman up as well,” Luedeman said. “It does take teamwork, and we’ve had a lot of discussions, and if we have issues or problems outside, when we come into this gym we leave it all behind us. Stay focused and this should be an area you don’t have to worry about any of that. Play volleyball.”

The Tigers alumni replaced Hope McMannany, who coached the Tigers last fall.

In 1976, Luedeman helped the Tigers reach the sectional final.

She officiated volleyball for seven years before she began her coaching career working with elementary teams, then the Crothersville junior high program before she moved up to junior varsity, where she assisted her high school coach, Carol Otte.

Luedeman became head coach of the Tigers in the late 1980s and held that position for seven years. She coached the Tigers to the Southern Athletic Conference title in 1989.

“It’s been different for me,” she said. “Before you just sort of sit on the sidelines. Now, the coach stands a lot right there with the team. With this young group they need a lot of reassurance, they need a lot of coaching.

“They’re learning the game. That is probably what I enjoy the most, the teaching of the game, so it’s been a good fit.”

She has a granddaughter, Katrina Christian, and a great niece, Abby Mains, who play on the team.

“The first time I heard ‘Coach Grandma’ I about fell over,” Luedeman said. “Some of them call me ‘Coach Grandma’; some of them ‘Coach Linda.’ It gets informal at that point, but I have watched these girls grow up, so they’re like family even if they are not blood-related.”

Luedeman said she when she began her teaching career, she was an elementary teacher.

She received her principal’s license and was a principal in the Seymour and Pekin school districts.

Her father, Fran Schill, was a coach and principal for much of his career.

“I was raised as a gym rat,” Luedeman said. “Everywhere he went, he coached so I grew up in a gymnasium or at a baseball field. I’ve always been around sports.”

Luedeman said the biggest change from when she coached before is the way the matches are scored.

“I would say the rally scoring is the biggest change,” she said. “Games speed very quickly, and if you’re ahead a game can be over in no time, and if you’re behind it can be over in no time, so you really have to make that serve and keep the ball in play because it’s just a matter of time because it goes quickly.

“I do like the rally scoring. Something we do have to watch is sometimes we get points that may not be earned points. I would like to see us earn our points. Getting a point off the other teams’ mistake is still a point, but it’s not exactly an earned point possibly.”

Regular weekday matches are the best 3-of-5, while most matches in weekend tournaments are best 2-of-3.

“Three out of five definitely shows the stronger team, the team that has the endurance of staying with the game,” Luedeman said. “I think it does show the stronger team.”

While the game has changed, some of Luedeman’s workouts have stayed the same from over the years.

“We still do some of the same drills, the strategy is there,” Luedeman said. “I try to get a variety. On line drills are wonderful to see. There are so many resources now that you can get. There are so many coaches at the university level that have on line resources for you.

“We try, once a week to focus on a specific drill, a specific skill. We go to the computer lab, and we watch online a video of a certain skill I like for them to see, and then we practice it, and then we incorporate into our drills, and that’s our focus for the week.”

Linda Begley is the assistant coach for the Tigers this fall.

“(Begley) has certainly been wonderful,” Luedeman said. “It’s great to have her in the school building during the day, so the girls have a go-to person. They also have Mrs. (Cheryl) Nehrt, our athletics director.

“I am really enjoying it. It’s a different feeling from years ago. I’ve matured and I see things differently, a different perspective. I’ve had some of these girls’ mothers. It’s fun to see them sitting in the stands with their own child out there, and I see a lot of the mothers in their children.”