Earlier this summer, Wendy Sachen was named the new head volleyball coach for Immaculata High School. Sachen, who will be replacing Dan Schmidt, started coaching volleyball back in 2001 and has been involved with the Lady Raiders high school and middle school program since 2007.
1. To begin with, what attracted you to this position? Why do you think you were the best candidate?
My love for the Immaculata family is what attracted me to this position; my passion for coaching the game is just an added bonus. My children go to school at Xavier/Imac, my husband works and coaches at Imac.
I am not originally from Kansas – I'm from Warren, Michigan, a suburb just outside east Detroit. I have hundreds of special people who I consider family right here in Leavenworth. I know that in time of need we are always there for one another and that is a great feeling.
I feel I have a personal responsibility to make sure that Imac gets the best of the best and I would not want it any other way. They knew at my interview that if someone more experienced, more knowledgeable of the game or better suited for the position was to apply that I would support their decision 100 percent.
It has been my goal to take a high school volleyball team and win state, just finding that opportunity which would be manageable with my work schedule was the challenge. It had to be close to home and someplace that I felt comfortable if I needed a helping hand managing my own family's hectic schedules that will definitely conflict throughout the volleyball season.
I am a member of American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), Heart of America Volleyball Organization (HOA), USA Volleyball IMPACT Certified and USA Volleyball Coaching Accreditation (CAP) level-2 certified.
It is important to me to continue education of the sport as this game has evolved drastically over the past 20 years and I take full advantage several times a year of clinics and sessions that are available to make me a better coach. I have been called a bit of a volleyball junky.
2. For those that don't know your background, can you give them some insight into your coaching experience? What originally interested you in coaching?
I started coaching volleyball in 2001. I was new to Leavenworth and started playing in a Saturday morning open gym at Riverfront Community Center. I met Ruth Foster who at the time was the head coach at Pleasant Ridge.
She introduced me to HOA (Heart of America) club volleyball and asked me if I would like to coach a team. I was hooked. Since then I have coached every winter with our local clubs Northeast Elite and last year moved to Northeast MAVS both run out of Lansing.
Page 2 of 3 - Working with Julie Slater, who has been a great friend and coaching mentor for over 10 years, has definitely helped me grow and has given me many tools for what it takes to run a successful program. I also coached at Immaculata High School as an assistant coach and Xavier Middle school since 2007, taking a temporary role as head coach at Xavier last year (as our coach was busy beating cancer). We captured the title as DVL league champions.
It's definitely not something I grew up thinking I would ever do. Back in the mid to late '90s my husband decided he wanted to coach basketball out in Baldwin, Kan. I really enjoyed watching him coach, how he interacted and made a difference in these kids' lives on and off the court.
As the years went on he added football and I found myself moving closer and closer to the bench just to listen in. He really is an amazing motivational speaker and coach. I can honestly say that he is the fuel that sparked my interest in coaching.
I admit I don't have his gift of being really cool in huddle speeches or life-lesson lectures. But I have my own unique way that seems to work out pretty well too.
3. What is your coaching style like? What foundations do you plan on building your program around?
I've played every card in the deck and what I have found works best for me is a cooperative style of coaching. I feel it is important to share as appropriate the decision making with athletes. I feel it empowers them to be the best they can be. It's part of the relationship we will establish from the very beginning; with high expectations, strong work ethics, and respect for one another as a team with the same goals.
I don't get out of my seat much during a match unless it is to get a better angle on our opponent's coverage, call a timeout or shag a ball. I think I'm really kind of boring to watch. So if you want to see anything exciting you probably will have to show up to practice.
First and foremost is our faith, it is our true guide to life and the successes that we will accomplish on our journeys. Student first, athlete second, you can't play if you don't work hard in the classroom.
Touches, touches, touches… keeping it game like; as the game teaches the game. Strength and speed training year round with the mindset to always better yourself; mind and body.
And a high emphasis to be a multisport athlete. I am a firm believer that rotation of sports and working different muscle groups builds better athletes, reduces risk of overuse injuries and less likely to experience burnout. It also gives them time to find out for themselves what they really enjoy doing and looks great on the college resume.
Page 3 of 3 - 4. With the recent success of the Immaculata volleyball in the past years, what is the key to taking the program to the next level?
Hard work by all! This isn't a game won by talent alone and I am extremely lucky that I have been given a great group of girls that will be playing in the fall.
We will be working on goals, strategies, defensive and offensive options. We need to be able to adjust comfortably on the fly and learn to take risks as needed to put us on top. I do plan to incorporate some new fun ideas into the program, but the ultimate goal is to make this transition as smooth as possible for everyone.
5. Looking forward, where do you hope the program will be in five years? What are your short-term and long-term goals?
I want Immaculata to be the place that every Catholic or non-Catholic family in Leavenworth County wants to send their child to school to play volleyball. In five years my daughter will be a senior at Imac. I would really like to be repeat state contenders by this time.
They are very much the same: Through faith and determination help our student athletes grow as individuals and prepare them for their lives beyond high school. To have fun and play to win a state championship.
– Brent Lager