By Joanna Chadwick
Entering her 24th year as the head coach for the Derby volleyball team, Coach Shelby Kraus knew that she would have her work cut out for her this season.
“This year is definitely a rebuilding year,” Kraus said. “Our goal or motto for the year was to be better than the day before.”
With a team led by three seniors, Derby is a lot younger than they have been in the past. Five juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen round out the rest of the varsity lineup. But with a key season-ending injury to senior Sydney Henning, the Panthers would have to shift their setting and mindsets for the year.
“The upperclassmen have been fantastic in helping the younger players adapt and learn. I couldn’t have asked for a better team this year,” Kraus said.
Early on in her coaching career, Kraus admitted that she tried to emulate her college volleyball coaches strategies and coaching style, but adapted to the fact that not all high school volleyball players are as “well-educated” in the sport as college athletes are.
Kraus is what you call a “players coach.” She is big on the fact that if she is yelling at you and “hounding” you then that shows how much she cares. Kraus is a coach that will do anything for her players and realizes that at the end of the day, it isn’t just about wins and losses, it is about them knowing that she only wants them to be successful.
Wins still matter though for Kraus, who has been very accustomed to winning while at Derby.
“I honestly believe that building personal relationships with your players is the most important thing,” Kraus said. “I want my players to know that they can always come to me and depend on me. I take a sincere interest in their lives outside of volleyball. We teach our players to be respectful of each other, to appreciate the opportunities they are given, and to let people know that you appreciate them.”
As they continue to get better week after week, make sure to check out the Panthers the rest of the season, and the next as they progress.