Waite’s building blocks to success


In only his sixth season, head volleyball coach Pete Waite has become the all-time victories leader with 140, and is enjoying the pinnacle season of a career thus far that has seen many upsides and a few downsides.

“It feels great. I’m really proud of the fact that it was done in such a short period of time, especially considering the second year of 9-20 when we really did struggle,” Waite said. “I think I feel even better because of the people around the department and around campus that have really made a point of letting me know what a big deal it is.”

When the Huskies returned around 1:00 a.m. after the Western match, a picture of Waite flexing his muscles while being carried off the floor by teammates was taped to the door.

Walking into his office he found 140 lollipops had been placed everywhere with streamers and balloons hanging from the ceiling.

Although it may seem apparent to most that this season is one of celebrations and victories, many fail to realize the long hours and patience Waite and his assistants brought to make this organization the powerhouse they have become.

“Each (season) had its different and exciting points,” he said. “The first year we had three starters that were great athletes that just controlled the courts and when we lost them we lost a lot of speed and athletic ability and it just didn’t come together for us.”

With Kori Schauer, a medical redshirt, out for the 1989 season Waite was forced to look toward next year when he would receive a welcome surprise. In with that year’s crop of freshmen came Amy Foulke, Nikki Kozak, Becky Ramsey, and Amy Vander Meer.

Not sure what to expect, Waite started his four freshmen and one sophomore in what turned out to become, at the time, Waite’s most productive season, boasting a 26-8 record.

“It was great. Even as freshmen, they just went out there and played hard and weren’t concerned with the fact that they were freshmen. They went out and beat more veteran teams with players from junior and senior classes,” Waite said.

As the season grew, Waite caught a glimpse of what the future would hold in store as he saw his starting rotation comprised entirely of underclassmen roll right through the competition that with other underclassmen teams would have been tougher.

In the North Star Conference tourney that year, the Huskies battled from two games down in the semi-final to squeak by UIC and in the finals came from two games down to beat Wright State in the finals.

“Right there we knew how determined the group was and how gutsy they were and that they could really play ball,” Waite added.

Last season Waite’s group hit a surge and put together a 33-6 season which ended with a 4-1 record in the NIVC.

“Every year then, including last year when we went on to the NIVC and had a great post-season it’s just gotten better and better, and we’ve gotten deeper and deeper, and stronger,” he said.

While Waite has no plans to leave, absence of this year’s five seniors will be felt and next season will again be one of working with new freshmen.

And although new freshmen will be needed to fill the roster, it seems unlikely they will have an easy time earning a position, as eight returners will step up and attempt to bring Waite even more.