Rode

RODE: Lindsay Thurber Raiders volleyball a family affair

There can be positives and negatives when an athlete grows up in a family where one of their parents is their coach.

In the case of Maddy DeZutter there is nothing but positives.

“I really enjoy it,” said the Lindsay Thurber Raiders star setter, who plays for her mother, Kirsten DeZutter.

“Having her as a coach is great and as a mom, I get a chance to talk a lot of strategy at home. Our family is volleyball dominant and we have conversations at home all the time, which we can grow up and learn from.”

Kirsten is 0ne of the premier high school girls coaches in the province, having won seven Alberta Schools Athletic Association 4A championships to go with five silver.

Maddy understands why her mom is successful.

“She has so much energy on the court and off the court, she builds good relationships with all the players … she builds up that trust and she encourages all of us and treats us all the same which builds trust between all the players. She also has had so much success, which rubs off on the team.”

Kirsten has enjoyed coaching Maddy as well.

“It’s special to me,” she said. “But when I hit the gym and on the court, it’s important that Lindsay Thurber is her school and I’m there as a coach. It’s a coach-player relationship and I try hard to treat all my players the same … I want Maddy to enjoy the experience the same as all the other players. To see her grow and see how she works with her teammates. I have a lot of pride in that.

“At home, I can put my parent hat on. We have a family that loves sports and we love those conversations with our kids.”

Maddy grew up in a volleyball environment but also enjoys competing in a number of sports. She was the LTCHS female athlete of the year last year also competing in track and field and basketball.

She played right side in volleyball and backed up starting setter Avery Hansen and also threw the javelin, where she finished second in the provincials, and shot put and ran the 4×400-metre relay and 400m in track. She played guard on the basketball team.

Maddy, who’s listed at five-foot-seven, is the starting setter this year as the Raiders opened the provincials Thursday in Lethbridge as the top-ranked team. The fact she played right side last year and left side the year prior helps her run the attack.

“It does help in that I know what kind of things everyone likes in every position,” she said.

Unlike a lot of setters, Maddy enjoys back-setting.

“That’s my favourite … that may be my strongest set,” she said. “But really I like spreading the offence around … getting everyone involved.”

She indicates running a diversified offence along with a solid defence is a key to the team’s success

“It’s important to get all our hitters involved and for all of us to work hard defending the ball,” she said.

One of the key players on defence is Grade 11 libero Jordie Hicks, who is in her first year on the senior team.

“She’s such a hard worker and goes for every ball … something we need,” Maddy said.

Overall the Raiders have seven returnees off last year’s championship team.

“It’s important to have that experience,” said Maddy. “We know what it takes to get there and can help the younger players understand what it takes win and that helps us bond as a team.”

For Maddy, competing at the provincials is a perfect ending to the volleyball season. But her career is far from over as she’ll no doubt play at the college level next season.

She plans on working on an education degree, but where is still up in the air.

“I hope to play as a setter or libero, but haven’t made up my mind yet,” she said. “I’ve talked with a couple schools but that’s all so far.”

If she does play libero, Maddy indicates her time setting will only help.

“I like watching hitters and knowing their tendencies and reacting off that,” she said. “As a setter it helps in that I understand what the other setter may be thinking.”

But her high school career is far from over. After provincials comes the basketball season, then track and field. As well she’ll compete for the Queens U18 Volleyball Club.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at danrode@shaw.ca