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Volleyball: New coach, still gunning for state

Posted 9/2/14

There’s a new coach at the helm of the high school volleyball squad, with Christie Slegers set to lead the Falcons into the 2014 season.

Fans had better be ready for the new season, too, because …

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Volleyball: New coach, still gunning for state


There’s a new coach at the helm of the high school volleyball squad, with Christie Slegers set to lead the Falcons into the 2014 season.

Fans had better be ready for the new season, too, because it kicks off tomorrow evening, Sept. 4, with a 6 p.m. home match versus Wickenburg.

Play continues Tuesday, Sept. 9, with a 6 p.m. road match against Coolidge, followed by a home competition against Florence the following evening, Sept. 10, at the same time.

With former coach Brennan O’Connor leaving the district, the volleyball program turned to high school biology educator Christie Slegers to take over.

Growing up in Minnesota, Slegers attended Hamline University before going on to graduate school at the University of Minnesota.

Slegers began her career in teaching and coaching volleyball before moving on to private industry. When that road came to an end, she decided to return to teaching, beginning in Fountain Hills as a substitute before joining the full-time staff in 2013.

As for volleyball, Slegers seems to know a thing or two about the sport.

“I played college ball before making the U.S. team,” Slegers explained.

“So, yes, I am an Olympic silver medalist. I know a little bit about volleyball.”

Slegers said that, when O’Connor was preparing to leave the district, he informed her that the volleyball team would need a new leader.

After playing the sport for most of her life, coaching and refereeing in more recent years, she said she was happy to return to coaching for the Falcons.

Slegers said she’s kept up with the team during her time here and is looking forward to working with the local ladies.

“I have high expectations, so I expect them to have high expectations, too, and learn that they are even better than they think they are,” Slegers said.

“A lot of our work so far has been skill development and movement on the court; learning to move together as a team and become faster.”

Slegers said that the program has been very fortunate to have such a supportive parent group that has helped keep the team active through tournaments, a NAU team camp and a local camp.

“That was helpful because I got to work with them on the court a lot this summer even though we couldn’t have routine practices,” Slegers said.

“So they got to know me a little bit and learn that I’m not going to just pass out praises for nothing and I’m not going to put up with drama.

“If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right and we’re going to work hard.”

Slegers said that the atmosphere has been very positive through the early practices, and that her ladies are excited and eager to learn.

Here at the start of the season, the varsity is comprised of seven seniors and five juniors, meaning that the Falcons will be hitting the court with a lot of experience under their belts.

“They’re a very cohesive group,” Slegers said.

“I tell them that they can have their problems outside of the gym but, when we’re here, we’re a family. Through the good times and the bad times, that’s how it works.”

This year’s captains are Gabby Mei and Jalin Yoder, long-time Falcons who Slegers said offer up loads of experience and leadership skills.

“My goal for the season is to qualify for the state tournament and do well,” Slegers said.

“I want us to do better than last year and see everyone advance in their own personal skills. If at the end of the year we can see that we’ve consistently improved, then we’re successful.”

When asked what appears to be the team’s greatest strength this season, Coach Slegers flagged down one of her players, Madi Blaes, to chime in.

“I feel like we all get along really well,” Blaes said.

“We don’t have any drama, we feel like we can talk about anything and we work well together.”

According to Slegers, that type of fellowship is exactly what will make 2014 such an exciting year for fans to check out.

“It’s a new team and I think we’re going to do really well,” Slegers said.

“You’ll see the girls working well together and I think we’re going to do Fountain Hills proud.”