By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
WAVERLY — Nine years ago, Kesha Sinsabaugh took over a Waverly volleyball program mired in mediocrity. This year, she led the Lady Wolverines to their second consecutive Section IV, Class B championship match, despite being the sixth seed, to earn the 2019 Valley Sports Report Volleyball “Coach of the Year” in her final season.
Sinsabaugh, who repeats as "Coach of the Year," made history on the sidelines last year, guiding Waverly to its first-ever Section IV title last.
“It’s exciting to think about. It’s exciting that you take over a program that can barely get to Sectionals, and build it up to a point where we’re in Sectionals every year,” said Sinsabaugh. “We won a title last year, and we were back in the finals this year. That’s the most exciting thing about it.
“And, we’re in a tough class, with a lot of STAC schools, which makes it so much more difficult,” she noted. “It feels good to know that the program was built on something strong, and is set up for the future.
“Hopefully, the success in the program will carry forward,” Sinsabaugh added. “I think it will.”
Sinsabaugh also notched her 100th career win this season in the Class B quarterfinals against third-seed Lansing.
“It was exciting,” she said. “I’m not the type to brag or boast, but I enjoy the fact I was able to get to 100 wins in nine varsity seasons.
“I did the math,” laughed Sinsabaugh, who also coached Waverly to a Sectional final in 2012. “It’s about 11 wins per season with only three trips to an extended postseason. I’m not going to complain.
“We should have it earlier in the season, but it came in a win-or-go-home match, so the girls were excited to get it in the Sectionals in one of our last opportunities,” she added. “It was exciting to get a 3-0 win going into the semifinals.”
Sinsabaugh, who also spent four years with the program before becoming the head coach, said the atmosphere around the program has changed.
“The energy and momentum of the girls is definitely not what it was 13 years ago,” she said. “Being able to have girls who enjoy the sport, and continue on is the best feeling.
“We’ve put a lot of time and work into this program, especially in the offseason,” noted Sinsabaugh. “It takes time, but it’s worth it, and getting the girls excited to play is beneficial to everyone.”
Sinsabaugh was an integral part of getting volleyball rolling in the youth ranks in Waverly.
“I started getting the second-graders into volleyball about 10 years ago,” she said. “Being involved in the youth and recreation program, and being involved with the modified program, all the way up through varsity is something I look back on with pride because it is something that reflects well on me, I hope.
“Some of the girls on this year’s team may have been in that first group 10 years ago, but I couldn’t tell you for sure,” laughed Sinsabaugh. “There were a lot of girls in that group.
“We really started to put a big emphasis on it about six years ago, and you can really see it in our (modified) team this year with a large number of girls having a love for the sport and, hopefully, continuing it on,” she added.
Sinsabaugh is stepping aside to spend more time with her family.
“I always said when my daughter was ready to go into third grade it would be time to focus on my kids,” said Sinsabaugh. “This season, we had kids on two soccer teams, a cheerleading team, and a football team, in addition to my volleyball, so we were all over the place.
“I’ve had 60-some kids every year that I’ve coached,” she added. “Now, I have two who really need my attention, and I want to be able to focus on them. I don’t want to miss anymore of their activities if I can help it.”
IN PHOTO: Waverly coach Kesha Sinsabaugh.
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