Growing up, Kranz, a senior majoring in elementary education, always enjoyed the social and athletic aspects of volleyball, and when she transitioned into college, she saw an opportunity to take her love for the sport and leverage it to further her professional development.

“I wanted to stay involved with volleyball, but I also wanted an extracurricular activity or job that supported my professional development and cultivated new experiences for me,” said Kranz. “I began seeking out coaching opportunities and was excited to find that Vermillion had a position available.”

For the last two seasons, Kranz, a Watertown, South Dakota, native, has helped coach the Vermillion Middle School volleyball team. While Kranz plays an integral role in shaping the young athletes into more skilled players, she also is learning more about herself and acquiring lifelong skills that will propel her toward a successful future.

“This opportunity has rewarded me with a wealth of lessons that have aided my personal growth,” said Kranz. “I have developed communication skills by talking with parents and players regularly, time management skills in my personal life and through lesson and practice planning, and an understanding of creating a community of shared values.”

We asked Kranz about her experience coaching in the Vermillion community and what she’s learned, and this is what she had to say.

What is your favorite memory from your coaching experience?

Coming into their seventh-grade season, many of the players lacked the technique and practice to successfully serve the volleyball over the net. Because this is an essential part of the game, the players and I worked on improving serving at every practice. One by one, players started becoming more confident in their serving abilities.

By the end of the season, at our very last game, there was only one player who had yet to make her serve over. The game was close, and it was her turn to serve. She took a deep breath and executed her serve exactly as we had practiced; it went over and in! The parents and fans cheered loudly, and the player was grinning from ear to ear. It was a little memory-- but a reminder of how rewarding this opportunity has been.

How has USD helped prepare you to take on this coaching opportunity?

The classroom experiences USD has organized for me have made me confident in my ability to work with upper elementary students.

Can you share the biggest lesson you’ve learned through this experience?

This coaching experience was a reminder that progression is not instantaneous – it takes time. In addition, I learned that, even when I think I have the worst of it, some children are experiencing issues that mitigate my "problems" to complaints/excuses; therefore, it is important to get to know players, encourage and acknowledge the successes of every player, and give them the support they need to succeed inside and outside of volleyball practice. 

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced in this role is providing effective instruction to each player. The variety of experience and ability presented challenges when facilitating whole-group instruction. Throughout the first season, we focused on developing fundamental skills, and I provided scaffolded instruction to players who were mastering the skills faster than others.

As we moved into the second season, the seventh-grade coach and I worked with players in groups based on ability. This helped us give more meaningful feedback, improve skills and create a competitive environment for all players to succeed.

After you graduate, what’s next?

Looking forward, I plan to finish up my last semester of student teaching and graduate this upcoming spring semester. Following graduation, I hope to stay in South Dakota to finish my master's degree in reading specialization and literacy coaching and begin teaching.

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