The transition from being an assistant coach to a head coach can indeed be challenging.
But it might not be as difficult for Nate Meyer, who was recently named the new head coach for the Union Grove High School baseball team.
That’s because Meyer seemingly has been a part of the Broncos baseball program forever. The 29-year-old Meyer played four years of baseball for the Broncos, including three on the varsity, and had been a Broncos assistant coach the last five years under Mike Arendt, who in July accepted a job to become the athletic director at St. Catherine’s High School.
Having been a part of the Broncos’ baseball program for so long, Meyer is understandably elated about his promotion.
“For me, this is really exciting,’’ said Meyer, who attended UW-Whitewater, where he played club baseball. “Being from Union Grove, this is something I’ve always wanted to do.’’
Meyer said he owes a debt of gratitude to Arendt, who gave him a big break by hiring him as an assistant coach and then became his mentor.
“I was fortunate to work for Mike; I enjoyed working for Mike,’’ Meyer said. “I learned a lot from him and he’s a good friend of mine, so it was sad to see him leave.’’
Arendt didn’t leave the Broncos’ cupboard bare. While the Broncos finished with a 10-17 record last season, they showed promise. They lost to powerful Burlington 2-1 in a WIAA Division 1 regional final. Burlington then advanced to the state quarterfinals before losing to Hartland Arrowhead 11-1.
The Broncos are also expected to have six good players returning next season, including junior pitcher-catcher Luke Hansel and senior catch Alec Spang.
“I’m coming in at a good time,’’ Meyer said. “We got a lot of good talent in the program. I can’t wait to get started.’’
Wealth of talent
Racine County was well-represented in the first Wisconsin Volleyball Coaches Association girls state polls of the season.
In Division 1, Burlington and Waterford were honorable-mention selections (just outside of the Top 10 teams), while St. Catherine’s was among the honorable-mention choices in Division 2.
“This is going to be a good year for Racine County girls volleyball teams,’’ Waterford coach Ashley Ingish said. “It (the polls) shows there’s a lot of talent in the area.’’
Waterford and Burlington, members of the Southern Lakes Conference, will get better indications of how good they are on Sept. 19 when they play each other at Waterford.
Mia Grunze is arguably the best girls volleyball player in the area and one of the top ones in the state.
The 6-foot-2 Grunze was a WVCA all-state first-team selection last year and has signed a national letter of intent to attend Ohio State University.
Grunze has gotten off to a flying start in her senior season. Through 10 matches, she leads the Wolverines in almost every statistical category, including kills (125), hitting percentage (.348), digs (86) and blocks (nine).
As if dealing Mia Grunze hasn’t been difficult enough for Waterford opponents in recent years, they now have to contend with another Grunze – Mariah – Mia’s talented younger sister.
Mariah, a 5-foot-11 outside hitter, has already shown she’s going to be someone to reckon with for the opposition. She has recorded a team-high 11 aces, along with 82 digs, just four fewer than her sister.
Ingish said Mia and Mariah have jelled beautifully on the court.
“They work really well together,’’ Ingish said. “They challenge each other, push each other and feed off each other.’’
Bringing out the best
The annual Racine Invitational will showcase some of the elite boys volleyball teams in this part of the state.
Twenty four teams, including five from Racine County will compete in the event, which starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday at Park High School. Kenosha Tremper and Kenosha Indian Trail are regarded as the top teams in the field, which will be broken down into six, four-team pools.
Racine County schools participating in the event are Case, Horlick, Park, St. Catherine’s and Burlington.
“There is definitely a great deal of good competition in this meet,’’ Case coach Dan Burch said. “It’s definitely one of the better tournaments in southeast Wisconsin.’’
The Case High School boys cross country program has a foreign flavor to it.
No less than three Eagles are foreign exchange students, including Fabrizio Masi of Spain, who in on the varsity team, and Cem Behrs of Germany and Jonathan Fheeba of India, who are on the junior varsity roster.
Masi has quickly made a highly favorable impression on Case coach Dan Jarrett.
“He’s doing great,’’ Jarrett said of Masi. “He’s probably our No. 5 runner now, but he has a nice upside.’’