Lady Devils' new volleyball coach ready to go
Familiarity with the style of play in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference will help Sara Heim in her new job as the Riverland head volleyball coach.
Heim was an assistant volleyball coach for Rochester Community and Technical College last season. Now, she takes over the head job for the Lady Blue Devils of Riverland, a key rival of the RCTC Yellowjackets in the MCAC, South Division.
During her high school playing days, Heim enjoyed success on the court with the Wabasha-Kellogg Falcons. W-K has been a successful program for many seasons and went to the state tournament last year.
After graduating from high school in 2006, Heim attended Ripon College in Oshkosh, Wis., and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. She graduated from college in the spring of 2010 and then, went on to become the defensive coach last fall for RCTC.
"I know about the conference and how tough it is to win matches," Heim said. "Riverland has been a solid program over the years and I want to continue that success. I've been around great coaches all my life and succeeding at the various levels will help me relate to the girls on the team."
For the last decade-and-a-half, the Riverland volleyball program enjoyed stability under the direction of long-time coach Helen Jahr. The former coach had a run of eight straight years in going to the state tournament, but the team failed to reach that goal over the last few seasons.
Jahr retired after last season and now, the program heads in a new direction under Heim. The new coach has a lot of enthusiasm for the sport she loves and is eager to get the season started.
"We open practice on Monday, Aug. 15, and I'll be contacting the girls over the next week who have expressed interest in playing," Heim said. "I'm very excited about the upcoming season. It's been my goal to be a college coach and this is a great opportunity at Riverland."
Although she lacks experience among the coaching ranks, Heim isn't far removed from her playing days in school and knows what it takes to win matches. She will be able to effectively interact with the players from the first day of practice.
"My plan is to hold strong, intense practices and get them to play at a peak level," the new coach said. "I'm young and have a lot of energy, so I can lead by example.
"I still love to play and can help the girls with their techniques in the pre-season practice sessions. Communication is the key to success on the court."
Taking over the team with a just a few weeks to go before the season opens is another challenge for Heim.
The coach encourages potential players from the school who haven't committed to the program to contact her over the next week and see if they want to be on the team. Her e-mail is Sara.Heim@riverland.edu.
In the off-season, Heim is active with younger volleyball players connected with the Junior Olympics. She was the head coach of the 15-year-old team in the Southern Minnesota Volleyball League over the course of the summer.
Making the transition to guiding college players will have to be a quick one for Heim, because the season for the Lady Devils starts in just three weeks. Riverland opens the fall campaign Friday, Aug. 26, on the road against Dakota County Technical College.
The volleyball season begins with a pair of road matches, then the Lady Devils play their first home match at the Austin campus on Sept. 3 against Ridgewater.