FALL SPORTS PREVIEW: Strong nucleus formed at Maharishi SchoolTed Wallace takes over as coach
Danielle Wallace had her hands full last year, guiding the Maharishi School volleyball team while pregnant with her daughter, Myka.
The pregnancy wasn’t too much of a hindrance on Wallace’s coaching duties. In fact, her team drew inspiration from her determination to improve the performance on the court while she juggled a busy personal life.
“It was a rallying point for the girls,” said Wallace, who is in her third year of helping coach the Pioneers. “The girls did funny things like put volleyballs in their shirts to pretend they were pregnant, too, or try to balance milkshakes on my stomach.”
Wallace understands the importance of keeping the game fun for the girls. She acknowledges the team is in a rebuilding mode after coming off a season in which the Pioneers went 0-24.
Ted Wallace, Danielle’s husband, will take on head coaching duties this season after previously serving as an assistant coach. Alena Goldstein, a 2008 graduate of Maharishi School, is the assistant coach. Ted said the program is still two or three years away from competing with the caliber of opponents it will encounter in the Southeast Iowa Superconference.
The Pioneers have had a tough row to hoe in recent times, during which the team has gone through a number of winless seasons. Part of the problem lies in the school’s declining enrollment, and thus declining pool of athletes. Around the turn of the millennium, Maharishi School had about 600 students in K-12 grade. That number dipped to about 200 a few years ago, but is on its way back up. Ted sees that as an important change in momentum for the school and its athletic programs.
In 2013, Maharishi School enacted a rule that required all students to enroll in at least one sport. At the beginning of last year’s volleyball season, Danielle was worried she wouldn’t field a team since only four girls showed up to the early practices. After the first day of school, that number shot up to 12.
Once again this year, the summer camps were sparsely attended, and the Wallaces worried about fielding a team. By mid-August, those fears had evaporated because the Wallaces found out that 16 girls would be out for volleyball this year. Ted said that number will probably be whittled down to 12 for the varsity squad.
Among the leaders on this year’s team will be the captain and lone senior, Kadie Roberts. Roberts was one of the most efficient servers on the team last year, posting a serve efficiency of 89 percent. Ted said she is a tremendously positive force on the team and a great influence on the younger girls.
Two of the main setters from last year’s squad are back for 2014: sophomores Jivani Rodriguez and Amanda Valentine. Rodriguez was a perfect 33-33 from the service line a year ago. Valentine was second on the team in kills per set with 2.13.
A couple of juniors return to the squad as well, namely Anna Unger and Amie Saine. Saine came to Maharishi School two years ago and had never played volleyball growing up in Africa. Ted said she is very motivated to improve and is hitting the ball hard in practice. He expects great things from her in the next couple of years.
Ted said Unger is a stable and reliable passer who is also a fantastic team leader. He said she is responsible for recruiting several girls to go out for volleyball.
Sophomore Loreena Hansen returns to the team this year. A couple of new faces will be sisters Melat and Hermela Gabremariam. Ted said he feels the team has a great nucleus and that it’s only going to get stronger as the season progresses and the girls gain experience.
“Our greatest challenge now is repetition,” he said. “We need more practice. Luckily, we have a nice tall team with the potential for a strong offense.”
Ted said one of the areas for improvement for his team is transitioning between offense and defense. After a team attempts to score on offense, its players have moved around the court and are not necessarily in a good position to defend an attack from the opponent. That’s why it’s important for the players to know where they need to be as soon as the ball crosses into the opponents’ court to avoid giving up easy points. Ted said some of the best teams in the conference, such as Holy Trinity, look like a well-oiled machine during their transitions.
2014 MSAE Volleyball Varsity Schedule
8/25 @ WACO Tournament
8/30 @ Danville Tournament
9/2 MSAE Triangular
9/4 vs. Central Lee
9/16 vs. Van Buren
9/18 vs. Cardinal
9/20 @ Harmony Tournament
9/23 @ Holy Trinity Triangular (JV)
9/25-27 @ SEISC Tournament (TBA)
9/29 MSAE Triangular (JV)
10/2 vs. Burlington Notre Dame
10/13 @ New London Triangular
Head Coach: Ted Wallce, 1st year as head coach
Key Returnees: Kadie Roberts (Sr.), Jivani Rodriguez (So.)