Kleinschmidt wants to give boys volleyball team a memorable year

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By: 
Rob Reischel
New Middleton boys volleyball coach Rob Kleinschmidt wants to make sure his team gets “everything they want” when they begin their year in February./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Rob Kleinschmidt has only been Middleton’s boys volleyball coach about a month.

But Kleinschmidt is already certain of one thing: he wants the senior class he inherited to go out on a high.

Middleton High School voted earlier this summer to push all fall sports to the spring due to concerns surrounding COVID-19. That means Middleton’s boys volleyball season will now take place from Feb. 22-April 12.

And Kleinschmidt still hopes to make it a season to remember.

“This year’s seniors put in a lot of time,” Kleinschmidt said. “We want to make sure these seniors get everything they want.

“There’s going to be challenges. This year is already different and unique and crazy. But when it’s time to have a season, we want to make sure we give the kids everything they want.”

That won't be easy.

There are just 60 schools in the state that offer boys volleyball, and 38 of those (63.3%) elected to play a fall schedule. That means only 22 teams will be playing in the spring.

There will certainly be other challenges.

Boys basketball — which runs until the first week of March — is the only sport to actually overlap with volleyball. But some athletes might find it overwhelming to try playing traditional winter and spring sports, and also wedge volleyball in between.

Kleinschmidt knows he might have to be flexible to keep the numbers in the program where they’ve been in past years. But in this wild and wacky year, he’s willing to do whatever’s necessary to give his new team the best season possible.

“With every coach, I’m sure there will be conversations of how to make this work best, and things like that,” Kleinschmidt said. “But one of the biggest things is we want the kids to have fun and challenge themselves. Our philosophy is to hop on this crazy journey and see how far we can take it.”

Kleinschmidt is taking over one of the state’s top programs.

Middleton reached the state tournament 11 times — and the Final Four twice — since 2002 under previous coach Ben White. Middleton went 172-28 in the Big Eight Conference under White (.860) and 448-172-19 overall (.716).

The Cardinals currently have a 74-match winning streak in the Big Eight and haven’t lost in the league since 2010. Under White’s guidance, Middleton won the Big Eight 13 times, had 12 Big Eight Players of the Year and 27 players receive all-state recognition.

If the Cardinals are able to play beginning in late-February, they figure to have some unique opponents. The schedule could be shortened and there are no promises of a state tournament or “culminating event.”

So this year’s results may be viewed through a different lens than White’s were.

But Kleinschmidt isn't worried about that. He just wants to give his team a memorable campaign when it eventually arrives.

“It is a challenge right now, it really is,” he said. “And one of the things that’s made it really tough is that things are really restrictive, so it’s been a lot of wait and see.

“So right now, we’re just using this as an opportunity to build the coaching staff and to get things ready for the later season. It’s a really weird year, but we still plan to make the best of this situation.”

 

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