It is doubtful Rick and Kris Menzel ever talked about spikes and digs in their wedding vows. They probably should have.
The husband-and-wife duo have handled the coaching duties for the Princeton St. Louis Knights volleyball team the past two seasons. Rick does the game-coaching and strategy; Kris handles all the paperwork and organization.
“It’s a good tag-team,” Rick said. “It’s one of those things at a small school. You do what you’ve got to do.”
“He’s probably more vocal. I’m probably the one saying, ‘do the breathing girls;’ he’s the one yelling,” Kris said. “It’s been fun. It’s a good group of girls. They work hard and that’s all we expect. If you go for it and miss it, it’s OK, if they’re putting forth the effort.”
It’s a real family affair for the Menzels, with their daughter, Madison, an eighth-grade volleyball player, and son, Walker, 8, who serves as ballboy/mascot. It takes a lot of planning to keep the family functioning during the volleyball season with Rick’s job traveling with Aramark Uniform and Kris’ day job as a therapist.
“Looking at the week ahead and which town are you in, I’ll meet you there, lot of times two vehicles. That’s the hardest part because you got to work, too. Lot of planning and a lot of sandwiches on the road.
“Our little guy has to come to practice and all the games. He’s actually typed up some rules he’s heard us say for the girls.”
Madison’s grandfather, Joe Miller of Mendota, coached the St. Louis basketball team, and her father coaches her in summer softball.
“Madison just can’t run from it,” Rick said of the family ties. “She’s OK with it, but I think she’s ready to get coached by somebody else.”
The Menzels are both from Mendota. Rick (class of ‘85) played football and ran track for the Trojans. The former Kris Miller was a tennis player. He’s played a lot of rec volleyball at the Metro Center and says he knows just “enough of the basic offense to coach at that level.”
The Knights team is well disciplined, with each player calling for the ball with a loud “I got it,” and trying to use the ol’ bump, set and spike to get the point.
The St. Louis team has just seven girls on the “varsity” squad. Menzel rotates his three seventh-graders, twins Julia and Rebecca Prushinski and Katie Johnson, and plays eighth-graders Alissa Holmbeck, Kira Harp, Brianna Legner and Madison Menzel, all around.
St. Louis is a member of the Prairie Conference, which includes Princeton Christian Academy, Cherry, Dalzell, Lostant and Dimmick.
• Parting shots: Princeton great Joe Ruklick is interviewed for a piece on the NBA TV network at 6 p.m. Friday for his part in Wilt Camberlain’s 100-point game 50 years ago. Ruklick got the assist on the Big Dipper’s last basket in 1962, then teammates for the old Philadelphia Warriors. ... Neponset’s Dale Brady, 34, will be working his second NCAA III Regional this weekend at Whitewater, Wis. He has worked the college game 12 years, earning his first NCAA regional in 2010. His father, Don, worked the IHSA finals in 1982-84 ... The PHS Booster Club did another bang-up job on the boys shootout over the weekend. Mark your calendar for the girls shootout March 24-25.
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR sports editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.