BCR Volleyball Coach of the Year
Princeton volleyball coach Andy Puck made the bold move to not only pull six sophomores up to the varsity this year, but play them regularly. He was not only playing for this year, but the next two years to come.
The move paid off this year as the Tigresses posted 22 wins, tied for second place in the TRAC East, and reached the regional finals for the second year in a row, falling to Three Rivers powerhouse and Sweet 16 finalist Orion.
Puck is the 2019 BCR Volleyball Coach of the Year.
The PHS coach said it was an easy decision for him to bring up what he calls the super sophomores cemented by the return to Class 2A from 3A.
“I’ve always been the type of coach, it doesn’t matter your last name. The best kids in the program that are going to give us the best chance to win are going to play,” he said.
Puck, who completed his 18th year at the PHS volleyball helm, said the sophomores grew around the leadership of Kenzie Coleman and the other seniors who saw court time.
“Game in, game out, tournament in, tournament out, just the confidence factor, and them being in bigger pressure situations definitely helped us throughout the year,” he said.
“Once you get an identity for a team and try to figure out where this kid’s going to play, that’s the fun part. Because now, then you put them in situations hopefully they see over and over.”
And the more they played, the better they got, he said.
“All the work is done in practice, and once you get in games, the kids are like, ‘OK, this makes sense now,’” he said.
“It was really fun to watch the kids. Younger kids are going to fail usually more than they succeed, but towards the end of the year, the more they were in these failure situations they had seen those, they’d start to succeed. That’s when it’s a lot of fun. You watch them grow and get better through practice and games, that’s what makes coaching a joy to me.”
Puck said there will be pressure on those players and himself to only get better next year and the following year.
“With success, there does come some negatives. There’s definitely going to be more pressure on these kids and myself, too. But, I don’t think any of the kids have reached their ceiling, which is exciting,” he said.
The Tigresses coach said their top goal next year will be to replace Coleman.
“Internally, there’s definitely some options,” he said. “Even some sophomores who did not play with (the varsity) this last year are really hungry for those opportunities. I’m going to give opportunities to everybody that’s possible.
“And that’s not even to say the six sophomores who did play are going to start. One luxury of having those sophomores play up was, it gave our sophomore team opportunities to get reps and get better. There’s going to more competition next summer, which is going to be great.”