Schmiedbauer named head coach for Panther volleyball
Middle Park High School’s Panther volleyball squad has new leadership this year in the form of longtime East Grand business manager Donette Schmiedbauer.
Schmiedbauer returns to the coaching staff of the Middle Park volleyball team for the fifth consecutive year, taking the reins as the head volleyball coach after spending the last several years as the coach of the team’s junior varsity squad. Schmiedbauer, who grew up in the Granby area, said she is looking forward to the fall sports season and that she expects big things from the lady Panthers.
“It is a bit overwhelming for sure,” Schmiedbauer said, specifically referencing the increased administrative duties she carries now as head coach. “I think as long as we communicate we will be fine.”
Looking ahead to the coming season Schmiedbauer said she hopes to see the lady Panthers win a second consecutive Frontier League title but noted the league features several highly competitive teams including the Bennett Tigers. Schmiedbauer highlighted a recent change in the way games are scheduled amongst Frontier League teams that could impact the Panthers this year.
Historically the Panthers have played every one of the 12 other Frontier League teams at least once per season. Starting this year though all Frontier League teams are grouped into one of three different tiers, based on their performance last season, in a system analogous to tournament seeds.
Due to Middle Park’s successful performance last season they are in the league’s first tier. The teams that saw the least success last season are in the third tier. Instead of playing every other Frontier League team at least once this season the Panthers will play second tier teams once and the league’s first tier teams twice.
The high school volleyball team’s roster features 45 student athletes this season including 10 seniors and 13 freshmen. Schmiedbauer said the 2018 roster is the largest team she has seen at Middle Park High School by a significant margin. The team enters the 2018 season after a successful year in 2017.
The lady Panthers went undefeated in league play last year and dominated the Region 12 tournament in early November. They suffered a pair of early back-to-back loses in the state championship tournament though that ended their dreams of a state title.
The successful performance the Panthers posted last season was due in large part to the efforts of a large contingent of senior girls who led the volleyball squad. While Schmiedbauer acknowledged the loses she said she feels confident in the skills of her younger players.
“I think in certain positions we may be weaker than last year, but I expect good things from my returning players,” she said. “We will be okay, even losing some of those stronger seniors. Fundamentally the girls are really strong. We are now working on discipline, communication, and believing in themselves that they can go as far as they want. My mantra will be communication, discipline and heart.”
Assisting Schmiedbauer with her coaching duties this season will be Kelly Friesen, who will oversee Middle Park’s junior varsity squad, Shelby Walkinshaw and Beth Romero. Both Walkinshaw and Romero will handle coaching duties for the Panther’s c-team and Middle Park’s newly created level four team.
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