What’s going to change for Nazareth coach Wayne Saunders once his youngest daughter, Julia, begins her college career at Wisconsin next fall?
For one thing, he will have to order his own ducks.
“She does a lot of stuff for the program,” Wayne said. “She helps me set up our camp for younger kids. We give away little rubber ducks for the campers. She orders them. She helps me set up for tryouts. She does all these things to help make it easier. She’s little bit more than just a player.”
The long talks in the car between father and daughter to and from school will also come to an end.
“We talk about what I’m doing in school that day,” Julia said. “We talk about how my classes are going, we talk about how his classes are going, what kids are giving him trouble, what happened that day that was noteworthy.”
Wayne Saunders the father will miss the conversations and Julia’s help with running camps and tryouts and practices. Wayne Saunders the Nazareth volleyball coach will miss the player who attracted offers from such Big Ten schools as Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
However, it hasn’t always been easy juggling coach and father.
“There are times when it’s hard,” Wayne said. “Sometimes, you have to careful in what you say or how you say it, separating the dad from the coach. Julia’s pretty receptive to stuff. She’s been around a long time. Occasionally, it might upset her a little bit.”
For Julia Saunders, being a coach’s daughter and playing for her father hasn’t always been easy, either.
“Obviously, I’m a coach’s daughter, so I kind of know the game pretty well,” she said. “I can assess what I’m doing wrong or what I need to fix in order to be more successful with my passing or serving or hitting.
“But sometimes things can get a little redundant. For example, if I know that I have to get my butt down when digging a ball but he keeps telling me four times. I’m like, ‘OK , I know.’ It’s hard sometimes to separate the nagging from coaching.”
But it will be even harder to separate the father from the daughter. Next year will be Saunder’s last coaching volleyball at Nazareth. He wants to be able to watch older daughter Emma play at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut and Julia play at Wisconsin before their college careers are over.
“I’m getting close to retirement anyway,” Wayne Saunders said. “I’ll be 64 this year. I’ve had a good run.”
With a little help from home. And a lot of rubber ducks.