Being the only senior on an athletic team can be challenging, but it’s even more difficult when your head coach steps away after your first game.
For Harrison High School senior and volleyball captain Kadie Hawks, that was exactly the case.
Hawks’ first varsity experience came as a sophomore, an opportunity that allowed her to watch and learn from older, more experienced players.
That experience proved to be invaluable after head coach Meghan Wheat resigned following the first game of the season.
“It was definitely hard to come back from losing our coach right after the first game,” said Hawks, a University of Indianapolis recruit. “We had such a good group of girls that it was really easy to have fun and work hard.”
As the lone senior, Hawks had to step up and take responsibility of rallying the team together, a task she knew would put her under considerable pressure.
“It was just a different kind of pressure,” said interim head coach Doug Klumpe. “The pressure was to help the girls come around to a 54-year-old male coaching instead of a 24-year-old female coaching.”
Fortunately, Klumpe, who teaches at Harrison, wasn’t new to volleyball.
In nine seasons at West Lafayette, he accumulated a record of 200-98, including a sectional title in his final season in 2005.
Additionally, Klumpe served as an assistant coach for Harrison two seasons ago, where he coached Hawks and several other current players.
Klumpe’s experience, along with the presence of junior co-captain Mikaela Jennings, lessened the pressure on Hawks.
Jennings provided another strong voice for the team and helped bridge the gap between Hawks and the younger players.
Despite Harrison’s 8-17 record, the season was still a success.
Hawks helped the team grow and brought a mental toughness that was not seen early in the year, setting the team up for future success.
“She taught (the team) what a captain should do,” said junior Rachel Terry. “We’ll try to be more like her.”