Cindy Kostek took a break from coaching high school volleyball for a few years, but there was something that the North Platte native missed during her hiatus.
“The No. 1 thing I missed was the relationships you build with the kids,” Kostek said. “I missed the sport. Last year, I coached the (Fremont) middle school varsity and I loved working with the girls. I think girls need good mentors. I know my (daughters) had a couple of good mentors along the way and that helped me as a parent.”
Kostek is back in the prep coaching ranks. She was hired in January to coach the Fremont High School program. She replaces Rick Hughes, who stepped down after three years with the Tigers.
“Rick did a lot of good things,” Kostek said. “I want to take the good things he did and bring my personality into it. Hopefully we can have some success.”
The former Cindy Tatum was an All-American in track at the University of Nebraska. She began her coaching career in the fall of 1982 as an assistant at Milford before being promoted to head coach.
She later went on to coach at Parkview Christian, leading the Patriots to a state tournament appearance in 1998. After her husband, Mark, was named the director of the Drake Relays in 2000, the family moved to Iowa.
Cindy then accepted the head coaching job at Des Moines Christian in Urbandale. After Mark was hired to lead the Midland University track program in 2013, Cindy worked for two years at Omaha Westside before being hired as a school counselor at FHS.
The Kosteks are parents of four children — three daughters played collegiate volleyball — and grandparents of four.
“I didn’t want to miss out on their stuff,” Kostek recalled when she was considering returning to prep coaching. “I didn’t know if I wanted that time commitment.”
That changed during the Christmas break when Fremont superintendent Mark Shepard called her.
“We had a good visit,” she said. “He reminded me that one of my gifts is working with young ladies. I love the sport of volleyball and that is a tool I can use to build those relationships. I think we learn so much about life through sports.”
Kostek, a member of the Nebraska High School Hall of Fame, inherits a program that finished 7-26 last fall, but has potential.
“I think there are some talented girls on the team,” she said. “They are excited and they are coachable. I think a big thing is that they are hungry to learn more and get better. As a coach, that is all you can ask.”
Kostek plans on stressing fundamentals.
“Passing and serving will be huge for us,” she said. “We’ll be working a lot on that.”
The new Tigers’ coach also wants her players to know want she fully expects out of them.
“I feel I’m a good communicator,” she said. “I’m big on roles. Everybody is going to have one. It may not be the one they want, but it will be a role they are encouraged to take and do the very best they can with it. I like to be up front about everything. What you see is what you get with me. I think the kids appreciate that.”
The Tigers competed in a Bellevue league during June and will continue with their strength and conditioning the rest of the summer. The team will go to a camp at Iowa State later this month and Midland coach Paul Giesselmann has already conducted a two-day camp for the Tigers.
“That was fantastic,” Kostek said. “We have an amazing resource in our own backyard with Midland volleyball. After I got the job, one of my first calls was to Paul.”
Kostek has also been impressed with a group of seniors, including Elizabeth Greunke, Rylee Williams, Jayden McDuffee, Savanna Pieper and Shaylee TenEyck, during the coaching change.
“We also have four or five juniors that have stepped up,” she said. “They are ready to learn and it has been a lot of fun.”
Kostek will be assisted by Brenda Schiermeyer while Anna Grovijohn, a standout defensive specialist for Giesselmann and 2017 MU graduate, will coach the junior varsity. Geoff Semrad (reserves) and Samantha McMahon (freshmen) are returning coaches.
Kostek is also working with Robyn Cascio Jensen, the former head coach at Bellevue East, on a club program.
“You will still have some kids that go into Omaha to play on some of the elites, but we need an affordable option for other kids that don’t want that or that type kind of commitment,” she said. “I’m excited to be working with Robyn. She did this for years for Bellevue clubs. She’ll be a great resource for us.”