At first glance, Marion athletic director Grant Thierolf’s choice for head volleyball coach may seem perplexing.
Brady Hudson has never coached volleyball before. His high school, MHS, doesn’t offer boys’ volleyball; his college didn’t offer varsity sports at all. Yet Hudson was the one Thierolf tapped in May to take over the job.
Thierolf was thinking outside the box in looking for a candidate, just like Hudson had to think outside the box to gain his volleyball expertise.
Hudson didn’t play volleyball growing up, but his two older sisters did. He frequented their practices, acquainting himself with the sport and growing his interest.
As a high school sophomore, he joined a club volleyball team forming in Wichita. He decided his senior year not to play basketball in favor of focusing on club. When he matriculated at Columbia College in Chicago, he found himself again attending a school that didn’t offer volleyball. He and a fellow student formed a co-ed team, which he captained in his senior season.
He’s been playing club and assisting with clinics in Chicago but decided to come home to Marion. It was a sacrifice of his career as a player to start his career as a coach.
It’s been a good start, too, thanks to his team.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls for my first season,” he said. “They are spitfires — all of them.”
He knows he’s behind in the coaching process. Sandy Arnold, head coach at Hillsboro High School, has given him a lot of pointers since he came back to town. She also mentioned, however, that she’s been preparing for the season since February.
He added that Thierolf and his wife, Deanna, have been helpful in getting him acclimated. Having not seen the team play last season, it’s difficult for him to place expectations on his team.
“I know they had a winning season last year, and I want to have a winning season,” he said. “But most of all I want to grow with the girls.”
The team is led by seniors Sam Davies and Julia Hall. Hudson said junior Kirsten Hansen is a phenomenal talent, but her status is in jeopardy. She tore her ACL during basketball season in the spring and has a medical test one week before the opening game. Hudson is hoping she will pass and be allowed to play the season opener.
If her knee isn’t healed, however, Hudson said her freshman sister Kourtney Hansen could fill in well.
Hudson commended the girls for their excitement for the sport, saying they haven’t questioned any drill or instruction.
“They haven’t had any attitude,” he said. “They’ve been a huge help in telling me what they’re used to and what they expect out of me as a coach.”