New women’s volleyball coach sets goals

Hemer brings college experience to her role


Grace Kowalevsky

Mrs. Mary Hemer ‘09 works in her office during G period on March 20. Hemer has plans in place in her role as the women’s volleyball head coach.

Annika Garwood, Reporter

The women’s volleyball program has a new varsity head coach, marking the third change in this position in the last four years for the program.  

School counselor Mrs. Mary Hemer ’09 has returned to her alma mater and has taken over the title of head coach. Hemer played all four years here, later going on to compete at the University of Wisconsin for three years and managing the team her fourth. 

“My freshman year (in high school) I played JV but dressed varsity. That year we were State runner-up; that was 2005,” Hemer said .

“Then in 2006, my sophomore year, we won State,” said Hemer, pointing to a picture of her teammates encircled in a hug after they were announced the campions that hangs on the wall behind her desk.

“During my junior year we won City and Sectional, and lost to Avon the morning of Regional,” said Hemer. 

She said the loss was unexpected, but over her senior season the team “took it out on them.” During that season, the team finished 38-3 and captured a State championship. 

After she graduated, Hemer played at the Univeristy of Wisconsin for her freshman to junior seasons and during her senior season stayed on as a volunteer manager and coach.

Hemer said she loved playing in college. “My volleyball recruiting was very early, which is strange, so I’m happy about the change they have made. For me I went on my first unofficial visit in between my eighth grade and freshman year, and everyone that was good was just doing that,” Hemer said.

Although it wasn’t necessarily what she had dreamed of, Hemer said she “absolutely loved playing in college. Overall it turned out to be a great experience for me.”

Hemer then went on to say that there was so much untapped talent sitting on the Wisconsin bench that the head coach was fired the morning after a match during her junior season. 

She said, “The year that I helped coach, so my senior season, the team made it to the National championship game.”

Hemer said the whole experience wasn’t what someone dreams of when playing college athletics, but “I made some of my best friends in the the world there, I met my husband at Wisconsin, and I literally bleed red. I haven’t met one person from Wisconsin that didn’t absolutely adore their experience there.”

When asked about her experience in Madison, Hemer said she wouldn’t change anything. She said, “I had to learn a lot of things like everyone does, but especially with going to a big state school there were a lot of growing pains involved in the process. But I love my friends and I love my experience. The little hiccups in volleyball about not getting the position I wanted or the playing time I had hoped for have actually made me better.”

Hemer, while a full time college student and athlete, was an active member of an interdenominational Christian group called Athletes in Action, so she said her faith grew significantly during college. “I wouldn’t trade any of that experience,” she said.

From a coaching perspective, Hemer said she doesn’t know how she doesn’t take her experience from college with her this fall on a new season. 

“I grew up going to Cathedral camps along with my older sister, and I never wanted to do anything but play for Cathedral volleyball. And now that I’m back it’s almost romantic, but this is my home and I know it’s a lot of people’s home so I know how important the program was when I was here and how important setting those goals was when I was younger. That’s what we want to get back to. Coach (Ms. Jean) Kesterson and Coach (Ms. Rhonda) Low built a program that taught us life lessons.”

Hemer then joked that she sometimes tells her husband phrases her former coaches would have said or commented on while she was a player. 

Hemer said, “There are things that I learned in high school that prepared me for college and everything after that. So for me, that’s what getting back into the program is. Yes, we are playing a sport and yes, we want to win because that would be nice. 

“But for me, it’s asking myself ‘What are the girls taking away from here when they graduate?’”

She then elaborated further and said that regarding college, she observed much. “From politics or mental toughness or other things, I sat the bench a lot but it gave me a new perspective on how I want to lead the girls. I want to be able to be transparent and communicate with them directly about where they are playing or why they aren’t playing,” she said. 

Even with her full schedule in counseling, Hemer said she strives to communicate to all her students. She said, “If you can learn from one of my mistakes or my experiences, great.” And that’s what Hemer said she wants to take into the program. 

“I want to have all things considered, not blow smoke with anyone if I don’t need to and be as genuine as possible to bring back the program that Coach K built,” Hemer said. 

Going into her first season next August, Hemer said she hopes for the girls to get better and grow closer. “I expect them at the end of the season to be on the same page as me as to what I expect from them and how we warm up.”

Hemer’s goal, starting in the first season, is to get the program back to feeling like a family. 

As always, a State championship is the ultimate objective. “But I know what it’s like to have the State game define your season, and here I am 12 years later and it’s still hard to get past. So ultimately it’s about seeing change and progress in the girls,” said Hemer. 

The team will hit the ground running as it begins its preseason workouts on June 4.