CHEYENNE – Keri Coats is accustomed to high expectations.
The first-year Laramie County Community College volleyball coach grew up watching perennial junior college powerhouse College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Idaho. She went on to play for CSI before transferring to the University of Oklahoma.
Coats eventually returned to CSI as an assistant, helping the Golden Eagles win the National Junior College Athletic Association title in 2015.
She knows what it takes to make the NJCAA tournament year in and year out. She is trying to maintain those kinds of expectations at LCCC.
Austin Albers – who is entering his first season at NCAA Division II Colorado State-Pueblo – proved LCCC could compete at a national level by guiding it to a pair of NJCAA tourney berths. The Eagles placed 10th nationally in 2017 and ninth in 2018.
The expectations those tourney performances created is one of the reasons Coats was attracted to the job. She welcomes them and believes she is prepared for the pressure.
“The expectation to make nationals is a good thing,” she said. “I wouldn’t have taken this job if that wasn’t the expectation. With my background, and the success I’ve been a part of, I wouldn’t want to be at a place that didn’t want to go to nationals every year.
“This program has already had a taste of nationals, and now the pressure is there for us to get back.”
Coats arrived in Cheyenne in late March, and got to run her new squad through three weeks of spring practice. That brief introduction made the Eagles excited to return this fall.
“We were all really eager to get back in the gym, work hard and see what else she had planned to help us get back to nationals,” sophomore defensive specialist Kendzee Cloward said. “She came in with the expectation not just to get there, but to go further than we have before.”
Sophomore setter Gwen Sheldon described both Coats and Albers as players’ coaches. Albers’ practices involved all aspects of game play, but Coats has had fundamental-specific practices.
“I have no doubt that we’re going to be successful,” said Sheldon, who dished out 408 assists and 122 digs as a freshman. “I was worried about what kind of coach we were going to get when (Albers) left, but (Coats) is awesome. Everyone has bought in, and the transition has gone super smooth.
“She has played and coached at a really high level, and is implementing those sorts of things here.”
There is a lot for Coats to do before her team plays its first match Aug. 23, but her plate isn’t nearly as full as it used to be when she was overseeing and coaching in a 13-team club volleyball organization. Focusing mostly on coaching duties also attracted Coats to LCCC.
“I loved my club and everything that came with it, but it was a lot of teams to manage,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do when I can focus on just one team.
“There’s still a lot going on, but it’s a lot of fun and what I’ve always wanted.”