By ANA LAURA BRACCIALLI
After playing for the UT volleyball team from 2010 until 2014 as a setter, Kaylee Koetter is back at the home of the Spartans as a coach. Her skills as a volleyball player may be recognizable to the UT community, but it’s her name that often catches the attention of a different fan base.
Dirk Koetter is known to many as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, but to Kaylee, he’s “dad.”
Dirk came to Tampa to follow his daughter and both are in their beginning years of coaching in the city, but Kaylee admits she never saw this career path in her future.
“Growing up, my father always knew that he wanted to follow my grandfather’s steps, he was also a coach. But, for me, I always thought one of my brothers would do that,” Koetter said.
The UT alumnae went to New York City after graduating for a marketing internship, but a few months away from volleyball made her realize her passion. She was ready to come back.
“One summer being gone I really missed it,” Koetter said. “Here at UT, we run one of the best summer camps in the state of Florida for volleyball, and I knew that I need to be involved with volleyball in some shape or form.”
After moving back to Tampa, Koetter and Spartans head coach Chris Catanach talked a lot about her plans. After discussing Koetter’s future, Catanach had no doubts about inviting her to be the assistant coach for the volleyball team.
“Kaylee was born into a coaching family,” said Coach Catanach. “Her father and grandfather are both very successful coaches. She is a very good evaluator of talent and she is very perceptive of player strengths and weaknesses. I value her ideas and input on practice, strategies, personnel decisions, and team issues with the players. I think Kaylee has a bright coaching future.”
The transition from being an athlete to being the coach was smooth, according to Koetter. She found ways to contribute to the team since she was a teammate
“One of the things that the coach always said that I was good at was being prepared even when I knew that I wasn’t going to play,” Koetter said.
During her run as a Spartan, Koetter admits she had numerous injuries, which held her back from being a starting player. However, because of this, she pushed herself to contribute in other ways, and point the team in the right direction.
“I was always in the film room, preparing for the opponents and I was always trying to help, especially the setters, with whatever I could,” Koetter said.
Although she never thought of following her father’s steps while growing up, Koetter says that she is closer than ever to her father because of their similar career paths.
“I think we have a different understanding of our relationship, which is cool because I feel we are in the same area right now,” Koetter says.
Koetter is positive and looking forward for the upcoming season. After nine seniors graduated last semester, the volleyball team looks younger than ever as six incoming freshmen are noted on the roster.
While the task of molding new players may seem difficult for some, Koetter is excited to have a young team since she is also new to coaching.
“For the first time in a long time, we are young in experience,” she said. “I mean, they will make freshman mistakes, but it is really cool for me because I am so young coaching and still learning as well, and I feel that there is so much to teach right now.”
Koetter is the definition of what a teammate should be: always willing to help the team and focused in what she wants. All the dedication, passion, and hard work pays off in the end. The process that lead Koetter to do what she loves built her into the coach she is today, and that is something that she wouldn’t change for anything, she says.
Ana Braccialli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org