Interview with Bethel University Women’s Volleyball Head Coach Katie Weiss, Bethel University Media Day

Sep 1, 2022 | Interviews, Videos | 0 comments

Video Transcript

Paul Condry
Bethel University Women’s Volleyball Media Day here today in Mishawaka, Indiana. Paul County, the longtime voice of the pilots, joined by the Hall of Famer. Katie, we were glad to have Katie here with us on Media Day and obviously this time around come after coming off a 29 win season. But you didn’t win the national championship. So the season coming in as it was a year ago was a little different.

I know that you and I think you would openly admit that your team didn’t perform the way you wanted them to in postseason play, but they’re still a solid, great corps of kids coming back. So let’s talk about the transitioning. A year ago, we were having this conversation coming off the championship. This year, you didn’t win the championship.

So how is it coaching different or is there no difference whatsoever?

Katie Weiss
Yeah, I definitely feel like at the end of the season last year we didn’t perform the way I had hoped. That you envision ending a season playing your best, and I think we finished, you know, conference playing our best and then postseason kind of laid an egg. So yeah, I do feel like that changes the way that we coach as we go into this pre season, just making sure that our standards are high, our expectations are high and we are just never letting, you know, take a day off or, you know, have a bad practice like it’s it’s all out, all or nothing.
So, yeah, it’s been intense and it’s been great. Excited for this year.

Well, you should be excited because you’ve got first team all-American. Second team all-American. You got three girls who made high honors in Crossroads League and a talented group. But let’s start and introduce our captains today. And I know that we’ve already had conversations with Madison Beaver, but you’ve got some other gals who have earned that that important C on their jersey.

Who are the gals who are captains this season?

Yeah. So this season returning captain Maddie Paine and obviously she’s an incredible young woman. Not only is she very talented, but she’s a fantastic teammate. So her team has recognized her as a captain for two years now and just earned every every bit of that. She does a great job leading our team. Hannah Dahl is a senior and she’s a captain.

This year. And she’s going to do a phenomenal job of leading. And, you know, Hannah is someone that works incredibly hard at what she does and she just plays with such heart. So she’s a she’s a phenomenal kid. She’s a great teammate. She’s going to be a good captain. And then we have super senior Maddie Beaver as captain, which I’m thrilled.

It’s about time. And she’s going to do a great job as well. You know, she’s she’s got it all together and she does a good job just knowing all of the facts, keeping her team on track. And she’s going to be awesome at it. Yeah.

Well, let’s speak to the fact about Madison Beaver, because here was a person who has been with you the entire time you’ve been here. So you kind of get an idea where where she’s at. You’ve watched her grow up mentally, emotionally, physically from a skinny kid coming out of high school to being a solid competitor. And talk about how you feel that she’s going to be from a leadership stand.

But we already know that she can play the game. Right. But how will she be as a leader?

Yeah. You know, I think sometimes people have this idea of leadership and that it’s, you know, bossing people around telling people what to do or maybe having all the answers are never being wrong. And, you know, I think Maddie has really gained so much in maturity, obviously, from the time she was a freshman until now, just seeing her grow into a young woman that really understands like, I’m not perfect and I don’t have to be perfect.

And, you know, our perfection as Christians is Christ in us. And, man, Maddie had such a great summer, our mission trip that we took as a team to the Dominican and seen so much growth in those areas. And so out of that understanding and out of that humility, like, she’s going to be awesome.

Okay, so let’s speak to the fact that this team got all together during the summer and you guys took the mission trip down to South America. Give us an idea on what it was all about.

Yeah. So we went with Score International, which is this fantastic organization. They really put our trip together and we were able to run volleyball clinics, play some great volleyball games while we were there, and then also do just wonderful ministry things. So we were able to go to orphanages while we were there. Those times were amazing, really. Just when we were getting on the bus to leave different orphanages.

I mean, our girls were crying. They didn’t want to leave. They had such a such a connection with those kids. And so we were able to do all sorts of things like play volleyball with them, braid their hair. They love to braid our hair color, sing, dance, whatever it was, we, all of the girls were able to at some point on this trip, share their testimony of faith and, you know, pray with the people that we met.

So not only do we have this great ministry, part of it, where we were in villages and orphanages and things like that, but then we were also able to compete. And putting on these volleyball clinics was so much fun because the girls were so eager to learn. And then we were able to play volleyball games and that was just awesome for our team to experience.

All right. Let’s bring it back to volleyball, the core of your team and the success, 29 wins. A year ago, this team was dynamic at home, going 16 and three. I don’t know what it was about the home cooking or whatever it was, but this team was really, really tough out playing here at home. So let’s speak to the fact that this team’s dominant home court was fueled by a talented group led by Izzy North Green, of course, who’s a first team all-American.

Those just don’t happen every day. Right. So let’s start with her. And then you got Beaver and Payne, of course, who certainly a great one two punch in that regard as well.

Yeah. I mean, we’ve had such a strong offensive team with Izzy, with Matty, with Matty Beaver, and, you know, I think that they’re only going to get better as we go. And now we’re adding some new people to the mix that are also going to help improve that. So we’ve got Elise Silverman’s from Belgium, who is fast and exciting to watch and she’s going to help open our pens up a little bit more offensively.

So you’ll see Cheyenne and Hannah in our right side’s been able to just get some some great swings, but obviously strong team coming back and I think coming like coming forward, we’re capable of even more this year.

Talk about expectations. The expectations is to go to the any national tournament for the third straight year. And the reality is you want to go deep into that tournament series, you want to win the Crossroads league. And it’s hard to make up ground in a league that is one of the best in the United States at the A.I. level.

So talk about what you think this team has done during the off season to enhance their skill set so you can make a deep run in the NCAA tournament and win the Crossroads League regular season and postseason tournament championships.

You know, I think that what they do in the off season, it comes out of a deep desire to be the best that you can be. And so and that’s not something as a coach you can even force. Like you just got to find kids who want it that bad, you know, and so the kids that I know who have just given all they’ve got this summer, you know, at least is playing beach all summer.

Soon as she got to high school, she’s she’s playing beach. She comes here ready Matty Beavers playing sand all summer keeping keeping that touch on the ball, staying in great shape. Hannah is here all the time, working, getting reps, never skipping a lift. And those types of things are what make us the best that we can be. And so there’s only so many things in the off season a coach can control.

But when you find players like that that are going to push themselves almost as hard as you would push them, then, you know, you’ve got a great team.

You’ve got some good quarterbacks on this group, too. Jackie Fernandez is back, Paige Hickey, Caroline Mullet. And we mentioned Hannah Dahl is going to be back on the on the floor this year. Kind of give us an idea as you talk about those people who are setting things up for those that powerful front line.

Right. I mean, we can’t do anything without a pass and so to have Jackie Rachel Page back doing what they do well is, you know, that’s step one. If we don’t have that, we’ve got nothing. So I’m really excited for that leadership of the experience that Jackie brings, that Rachel brings. And yeah, it’s it’s got to start there and it’s got to stay there.

We got to have good defense.

I’ve had some coaches who have kind of ran away and hide from that dynamic. They didn’t want to do that. I’ve had some coaches who said Embrace it, and I’ve had some coaches who have told me that it was the greatest experience of their coaching life was to be able to coach their own child. And I know you have and you’ve got a couple three more years left so far.

Right. What’s it been so far coaching Hannah?

I mean, I definitely feel incredibly blessed to be able to coach her. It’s been challenging at times. You know, we sit and we have one on one meetings with our team. Often. And so when I meet with Hannah, it’s like, okay, you know, the coach hats on, this is coach, you know, then there’s times where like, well, this one can’t be separated.

So I don’t know which hard to put on, but it is truly such a blessing. And she, she’s, she’s such a great athlete and teammate. And so I’m blessed to be a part of her journey. I can’t imagine it any other way.

You got some other young kids who are going to have to play well. We mentioned Abby Meninga. Got some minutes for you last year. Mikayla Whittaker, who showed some really promise and some power last year. But as you look up and down the roster, it’s a roster that if you really don’t have a lot of weaknesses per se.

Right? Which is a great thing. But sometimes in that, you know, the depth that we have is is important. And, you know, we have two players right now that are really kind of consistent are outside players. You know, something happens that we need someone to be able to step in and do a great job. So yeah, we have great returners and we have some strong players, you know, Ainsley coming in in that opposite position but having talent that she could move and fill in a lot of gaps.

So she’s she’s just a great athletic player, you know, that’s going to help us to be strong as well.

You know, I was going through some of the numbers earlier and looking at the Crossroads League Award winners from a year ago and of course, the champions, the regular season championship. And I look at this, Marion, 35 and three, Indiana Wesleyan 24 and seven, Taylor 27 and seven, and Bethel 29 and 11 and Mount Vernon, 27 and nine.

That’s just the first five in the league. Right. And the bottom half of the league numerically speaking you’re not saying from a talent standpoint can beat anybody on any given day. Sure. So let’s speak to playing in one of the best conferences in the United States and what it’s like to have to get your athletes to crank it up a notch each and every time they go out on the floor, especially when you’re playing these teams both home and away and then potentially having to play them a third time in post-season play.

Right. I am really grateful that we play in this league. It’s so fun and it’s it’s crazy competitive and I wouldn’t really want it any other way. I mean, you you play a sport to be your best and so you want to bring your best and you want to be pushed to grow. And if we weren’t in this league, you know, I think you could you could fall into some discontentment with where you where you are.

But, man, you’ve got to come ready and you got to be ready to give it all you got when you when you play in this conference. So I love it. All of the teams are doing a great job growing and getting their programs stronger and stronger. So I hope to see, you know, the top five teams in the top 20, top 25 of the NBA.

It’s only going to help us all as we as we climb. But yeah, I think our players know I mean, all of our returners know the type of competition that’s in this league and they love it. And I think new kids coming in get it real fast. But these games matter. You know, you want to more than anything and just the fun that that brings is is pretty exciting.

Different coaching situations happen here. You’ve got a new full time assistant coach and let’s speak to Eric Cameron on and be a part of your program and how that’s going to play itself out.

Yeah. So Eric, joining our program as well as starting the men’s program here at Bethel has been just fantastic, great help for me and just being able to fill in a lot of gaps is only going to make us stronger. So I’m really excited for that partnership. He is really experienced. He knows what he’s talking about and we get along great, which is a plus.

So yeah, I’m thankful that he’s here and I think he’s going to help us achieve some some golf, some pretty high goals.

All right. Final thought. And you look at where you’re at right now and your maturation as a coach this time and a few games into this or a few matches into this season, you’re going to be able to put that 100 victory plateau. Somebody needs to buy Katie a cake. So 100 victory cake somewhere along the line. But in what areas has Katie Reese grown the most from the time she has come in?

Now, keep in mind, folks who may or may not know Katie was an all-American here. She was an assistant coach here. So she’s seen really this program in all different types of scenarios. So now I can say this, having watched you grow up during this program, where are you at from where you’re at at the beginning to where you’re at right now?
How much better of a coach are you?

Well, I definitely think I’ve grown a lot. When I started I and looking back, I feel like, wow, I didn’t know anything and I just had to learn on the fly. And but I love coaching. I’m so passionate about it. I can’t imagine doing anything else. And so I think that passion just fuels you to grow, you know?

And if you feel like you’re done growing, you probably are done coaching like you shouldn’t coach anymore. So I’ve grown a lot. I’ve learned a lot from other great coaches and I have a long way to go, definitely. So I’m excited about the place where I’m at, which is a little bit more comfortable in my own skin, trusting myself a little bit more.

But yeah, again, I’ve got a million things that I need to get better at.

Spiritual, dynamic and development of your team is paramount. I know that Coach Tony, Natalie Addy here has made a strong emphasis that that this is what this is all about. Can you speak to the development of this group as young women of Christ and as you move forward and how much important that is to make? That is really the rock solid bedrock of what this program and institutions are about.

Yeah, you know, our team really has grown a lot spiritually and just in that spiritual growth, you just see a lot of mature, mature growth as well in who they are and their character with integrity and responsibility. And I think that’s everything for our program. So yes, like throughout the year, throughout the season, there are ways for these kids to grow and be stretched.

But, you know, being able to take a mission trip with them at the beginning of the season was unreal. To see their hearts open for what the Lord’s doing, to see God just really kind of move in their hearts, all of them in a different way, which is really only God can do that, right? Just make each of them where they were and to see the openness and vulnerability that came with that just really bonded us together as a team.

And so I’m excited because I think, you know, that the heart in the door to our hearts is just open. And so God can do a lot of big things when when we’re open to him.

Katie is the women’s volleyball coach at Baylor University here in Mishawaka, Indiana. We’ll be back with more. Bethel University Women’s Volleyball Media Day right after this.

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