When asking about the connection a mother and daughter share when one is the coach and the other a player, a few trends begin to appear.
The situation can be trying, of course, for the families and other teammates, but in the end, the times on and off the court are those that they’ll never forget.
“I feel very grateful to have coached my girls throughout their high school careers,” Wahoo coach Trish Larson said. “Coaching your own kids definitely has its pros and cons, but the whole process has been very rewarding. They have been coming to practices with me since they were (very young), so they have basically grown up in the gym.”
The mother-daughter combination is distinctive in Wahoo; Larson has had at least two of her daughters on every roster since 2015. The familiarity within the system from a young age helped the Warriors to their first title in program history last season with then-senior Maddie and then-junior Elly leading the way.
The championship obviously made its impact in Wahoo, a town known for its basketball, but it also prepared the younger Larson sisters for what volleyball is like on the big stage. Freshman Mya Larson was a manager for the team during her eighth-grade season and she’s now emerged as one of the Warriors’ biggest weapons on their quest to defend their title.
“Last year Mya and Josie (11 years old) were managers on the team, and for Mya to have the same opportunity to play at state with her sister is very special,” coach Larson said. “Mya and Elly have developed a special bond as sisters. To be able to play the game they love together on the same court is something they’ll always remember.”
The bond on the court between families is obvious, and it isn’t surprising that these relationships create a culture of winning. But when it comes down to it, the memories outweigh the ultimate result on court, even when competing for a fourth state championship like the Johnson-Brock Eagles are this season.
“Getting to share our love of volleyball over the last four years is something truly remarkable,” Johnson-Brock coach Tera Stutheit said of her past four season with her daughter Fallon.
“I have always been extremely proud of the state championships I’ve coached. It’s truly hard to express how meaningful they’ve been. I know I’ve been blessed in so many ways, and having Fallon be a part of it makes it just a little more special. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”
All in all, there are 11 different mother-daughter, head coach-player partnerships at this season’s state tournament, but one thing they all share in common is a passion for winning and a penchant for accomplishing it.
The Whites, coach Darcy and senior Katherine, have made the state tournament in each of Katherine’s four seasons with the Timberwolves, and two titles have been the outcome despite some difference from time to time on the court.
“It’s not easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Coach White said.
“I’m not sure who it’s harder on, me, Katherine or her teammates. I think the toughest part for her teammates is witnessing disagreements between mom and daughter. I am glad I have been able to have these experiences and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I hope she can say the same when it’s all said and done.”
Norris is back in the Class B state tournament for the first time since 2014. Coach Christina Boesiger and assistant coach Gina Chambers won a state title together in 1991 when they were a freshman and senior, respectively.
Now, freshman Maisie Boesiger and senior Nyah Chambers hope to follow in their moms’ footsteps and bring a state title back to Norris. It would be a special moment for the families even if it seems like just yesterday when Maisie and Nyah were ball girls.
“She’s always been my little girl on the bench or in the gym since she could walk, (and) I can’t believe it’s here,” Boesiger said of Maisie’s first season with the Titans.
“It’s just been a blast to watch her play and do what she loves.”
So what happens at home when the relationship goes from coach-player to mother-daughter once again?
“There’s always something (with volleyball) that we’re talking about but we have a good balance,” Boesiger added.
All of these families and more will hit the court on Thursday at sites throughout Lincoln with the same goal in mind: a state championship. But, win or lose, the experience of expanding these unique relationships with their mothers and daughters will be the biggest takeaway of the week.