Baranek: Next match for Joann Holverson: retirement
Tony Baranek email@example.com | (708) 633-5947 May 31, 2012 8:30PM
Joann Holverson | Supplied photo
Joann Holverson’s coaching career in boys and girls volleyball spanned from 1989 to 2012.
Her girls teams at Thornwood, Sandburg and Lincoln-Way Central were 424-293, and her boys teams at Sandburg and Lincoln-Way Central were 458-155.
At Sandburg, her girls teams finished first in Class AA in 1998 and second in 2001. The boys teams won state crowns in 1999 and 2000, and finished second in 1997 and 2001.
Seven of her former players are current head coaches.
Updated: July 6, 2012 9:50AM
In the 20-some years we’ve done interviews together, I can’t remember a time when I caught longtime girls and boys volleyball coach Joann Holverson unprepared.
That changed Thursday during a talk we had regarding her recent decision to step away from coaching. On May 23, Holverson coached her final match for the boys team at Lincoln-Way Central, where she will remain as a P.E. teacher.
Actually, I really wasn’t surprised she didn’t have an answer for this particular question. It fit her personality.
“I don’t even know my win-loss record,” she said. “I was thinking I should probably look that up someplace. I guess at this stage of my career there are other things that give me the most satisfaction.”
She did know one number. And boy, was she proud of it.
“Seven of my former players are head coaches,” she said. “That’s pretty awesome.”
If you’re scoring, the seven head coaches are Kathy Sulkowski (Lincoln-Way Central girls), Jessica Clark (Plainfield Central girls), Casey Aubin (Libertyville boys), Dan Bonarico (Riverside-Brookfield boys and girls), Megan McDonough-Jones (Queen of Peace), Erika Lange (Lockport girls) and Bob St. Leger, the last of whom resigned from the boys job at Marist to take the same position at Wheaton North.
Joann Holverson might not be coaching anymore, but her philosophies are sure to continue.
“As my husband (Al Holverson) has so aptly stated, I’ve polluted the volleyball world,” Holverson said, laughing.
She did, very graciously, look up the numbers for me. They’re more than pretty good. Holverson posted a 424-293 record on the girls side at Thornwood, Sandburg and Lincoln-Way Central, with a Class AA title at Sandburg in 1998 and a second-place finish in 2001. On the boys side, she was 458-155 at Sandburg and Central, with state championships at Sandburg in 1999 and 2000, and second-place finishes in 1997 and ’01.
On X’s and O’s, she got an “A” from anyone I ever talked with. As a motivator she got an A-plus. Holverson wrapped herself around her teams as a coach, a teacher and a psychiatrist.
Mental training, to Holverson, was as important as physical training. When players arrived at school on Monday, they could always expect to find a letter from coach.
“That’s where, I think, a lot of my philosophy came through,” Holverson said. “The subject might be persistence one week and resiliency the next. Once I did one (letter) on pressure. I found this really neat dollar store that had a little ball with a case around it, and when you squeezed it, the ball kind of oozed out through it. But it came out in rainbow colors. And the theme, of course, was that pressure reveals your true colors.”
And that’s really all we need to know about Joann Holverson the coach. But I will leave you today with two more vignettes that paint a pretty vivid picture of Joann Holverson the mother and Joann Holverson the adventurer.
One of the toughest days she ever spent as a coach was the Saturday of the state boys finals in 1997. Her Sandburg team was in the semifinals that morning in Hoffman Estates. Her daughter, Kristen, not only was graduating from Thornwood, she was the class valedictorian.
“I remember being very torn about that,” Holverson said. “But she was the one who said, ‘Mom, there are going to be thousands of people in the audience. Dad will tape it. Go coach your team. Your boys need you.’ And then she showed up after the game in her cap and gown.
“Oh, God. I remember I walked into that press room and I just started bawling. It was so emotional. Without that kind of support, it would be so difficult.”
Then there was that magnificent 1998-99 school year, when her girls won the Class AA state title in the fall and the boys did the same in the spring. After winning the girls title, she had to deal with a dare made to her by her son, Erik.
“He was an avid skydiver,” Holverson said. “He said, ‘Mom, when are you going to go?’ I said, ‘If I win in the boys season, too, I’ll do it.’ I mean, what were the odds?”
Like her colors, Holverson was true to her word.
“It was the biggest adrenaline rush for two weeks,” she said. “I was scared up until the moment I jumped. At that point, I was ‘All right, I’m just going to enjoy it. It’s out of my hands.’”
Speaking of scary, how about retirement?
“Yeah, it’ll probably be a little scary for a while,” Holverson said, chuckling. “But hopefully, it’ll be like skydiving. Exhilarating.”
Enjoy it, Joann. You deserve it.