It’s not unheard of for coaches to coach at least one of their children. Marist School’s Mike Trapani coached his daughter in softball and his son in baseball. Our Lady of Mercy’s Tony Caruso also coached his son in basketball.
However, for the last three seasons, Bill Schmitz, athletic director and head volleyball coach at Our Lady of Mercy School, Fayetteville, has coached his two eldest children, Olivia, 18, and Mary Katherine, 16, in the same sport at the same time. Olivia is the team’s senior outside hitter and Mary Katherine is a junior setter.
Coach Bill Schmitz sits between his daughters Olivia, left, and Mary Katherine
“It’s been both challenging and extremely rewarding. My daughters and I are very close, but it is very tough on them since they are virtually with their dad all of the time. I wouldn't trade it for the world. I will cherish our time together for years to come,” said Schmitz. He said the best thing about coaching his daughters is he can be a part of their lives, but the toughest part is the feeling that the three of them are under a magnifying glass.
For Olivia and Mary Katherine the hardest part about being coached by dad is the occasional frustration and tension with each other that can arise during games, but in the end they always get through it and they stick together. “The best thing is my dad comes to every game, so his support is always there,” said Olivia.
As a coach and a dad Schmitz is proud of his daughters’ accomplishments. Olivia is ranked number one in the state in kills for all classifications and she is ranked 13 in the nation for the same category. Mary Katherine is ranked number one in the state in aces and holds a number five ranking in the nation.
This year Our Lady of Mercy’s volleyball team made it to the Sweet 16 of the state tournament. Unfortunately for Schmitz and his squad, they were eliminated by Greater Atlanta Christian School, a very good team competing in this Saturday’s state championship game.
This is Olivia’s last season on the court with her team, her sister and her coach as she prepares to head off for college. Olivia said she’ll miss her biggest supporter. “Although he is my coach, he has never made me feel like I've let him down or disappointed him, even if I miss a serve or need coaching. I can tell that he is always proud of me, even if I'm playing horribly,” said Olivia.
Both siblings said they have learned valuable life lessons from their coach and dad during these years of volleyball together. Olivia said he's taught her not to take life too seriously. “I'm a very focused and determined person and sometimes I miss out on things, because I let my passion for the sport get in the way of being a good teammate or a good leader. He is always reminding me to just breathe and let things be.”
Mary Katherine, who returns for one more season under her dad, said the greatest lesion she has learned is perseverance. “He has shown me that even when things get hard I have to push through it and he’s always got my back. This lesson has carried over into my faith as well as academics.”
Michael Alexander, Staff Photographer
Update: Eagles Landing Christian Academy defeated Blessed Trinity 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 29-27). St. Pius X defeated Woodward Academy 3-1 (25-23, 20-25, 25-16, 25-21) to advance to the state finals against Sandy Creek High School, Tyrone.