Waite worth the wait

By Carl Ackerman

Meeting challenges is what first-year coaching is all about, and to meet these challenges one must have a lot of patience.

When Pete Waite took over coaching duties for NIU’s volleyball team in 1988, he brought with him a strong desire to turn the program around. He not only turned it around, but he turned it upside down and inside out.

The year previous to Waite’s arrival, NIU was 19-16, but in ‘88 the team leaped to a 22-8 finish.

Waite’s team suffered a near reversal in his second year as the team dived to 9-22 partly because of the loss of three former starters and injuries to the team’s top two players, who sat out much of the season.

Now everyone is healthy and ready for action. Waite expects a promising season, and with the positive attitude he has formed, it’s not surprising he feels that way.

“I demand players be disciplined on and off the court. On the court, they should always show hard work, and off the court they should be successful academically. I also want them to understand it’s a game, and they should enjoy what they are doing. I think that makes them more successful,” Waite said.

Waite, a native of Monona, WI, has stressed that attitude throughout his stint at the Huskie helm, and it has taught his players a lot.

“He has taught us to work hard and not let up even when we want to because even when we’re down we can always come back. He tells us ‘you control what happens on the court,'” senior Julie Kreiling said.

“It was an adjustment period when he first came here, but he taught us to just go out there and believe in ourselves,” said senior Kari Niesen.

When Waite left his assistant volleyball coaching duties at Illinois State and headed for NIU, he must have had to believe in himself to make the improvements he did.

“When I took over NIU, I needed to establish a new attitude for the program, an attitude that they can step on the court and win,” Waite said.

The team started off 9-8 but after adjusting to Waite’s new ideas and the development of his new attitude, the team won 13 consecutive games.

Waite first started playing volleyball at Monona Grove High School. He then performed with Ball State for four years, which consistently ranked in the nation’s top 10.

After graduating in 1981, Waite took on coaching assignments at the high school, club and college levels in Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. He also spent two years at Moraine Valley Community College which resulted in a conference title and N4C Coach of the Year.