Hammann looks forward to next phase of coaching
By Eric Becker
CARLINVILLE (March 1, 2018) – Kaitie Hammann knows volleyball.
As a setter on Fran Struble’s teams in the mid-2000s, as an assistant under Struble and as the current head volleyball coach of the junior high program, Hammann has a good grasp on what it takes to be successful.
Hammann was recently hired as the new volleyball coach of the Carlinville Cavaliers high school team, the first coaching change at the top since 1980.
After Struble announced her retirement from the game after 38 years and 930 wins, Hammann jumps into the head coaching seat eager to continue the success that Struble leaves behind.
“It’s definitely overwhelming,” Hammann said. “It’s huge shoes to fill but I’m confident in my ability. I played for her. I know how her program runs. I was able to coach with her for seven years. Saw kind of the other side of the program. I’m so excited to continue her tradition but to be able to build my own path to get there.”
The Cavaliers won a sectional title in 2017 for the ninth time under Struble, upsetting Pinckneyville along the way before falling in the supersectional at Vandalia.
Even before becoming a paid assistant coach, Hammann returned to help out at the middle school level and now as the current middle school coach, gets to see the players develop from the first day of seventh grade on through high school.
“We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Hammann said of the plans moving forward. “I know how she plans practices, so I will plan my practices very similar. I think it helps with me already being in the middle school program to start building those foundational skills there to when we get into high school, we get to work on those fun things that make us a stand out program. Being able to work on the quick sets, being able to work on set plays where we run tandems off a free ball and we run overloads and back cuts.”
Last year’s team was spearheaded by a group of five seniors who had been playing together for the past six years. But the cupboard isn’t bare by any stretch.
“I have a lot of faith in our players coming up to continue on,” Hammann said.
While other schools have players who start in fifth or sixth grade, Carlinville’s volleyball players don’t really start until seventh grade.
“We struggle in seventh grade and then in eighth grade we play a little better,” Hammann said. “I’ve only been head coach four years, but I’ve won conference in eighth grade all four years. We haven’t won in seventh grade.”
Once the team reaches high school, the progress continues to show as the freshman and JV teams compete hard with some of the best programs around, even winning in some instances.
“It really shows that our girls are continuing to play even at the lower levels of middle school and JV,” Hammann said. “We’re still making the same strides.”
Hammann said when she left for college and came back, she wanted to be like Struble.
“I want to be a positive influence in a lot of young girls’ lives,” Hammann said. “Teaching is one way to do it, but coaching is a whole different level. You get to know the girls so much differently. You get to push them in ways that you didn’t think you could. Now I know that this is my chance and this is my dream.”
The program will undergo the usual summer schedule of volleyball activities, including a team camp for those in fourth grade through high school.
Hammann, along with Struble’s daughter, Jami Parker, head coach at Edwardsville High School, will be helping run the camp.
The middle school, varsity and JV teams all play in a summer league and also play in four or five different tournaments throughout the summer. Open gym is also held once a week.
“Goal is to get them ready for the season but not to overwhelm them,” Hammann said. “We do have so many multiple sport athletes that we want to share them.”
Hammann also wants to take a page from Coach Struble in how she handles victories and defeats, being humble in the victories and gracious with the defeats that come along the way.
Kaitie Hammann is the new head volleyball coach at Carlinville High School.