It won't be surprising if Juneau-Douglas High School volleyball coach Dale Bontrager knows just how to get the best play out of sophomore setter Katie Monagle over the next few years.
He's seen her type before.
Monagle, who will be playing for the Juneau JV squad at this weekend's Juneau Invitational Volleyball Extravaganza (JIVE), is the first second-generation player to be coached by Bontrager, one of a trio of longtime coaches currently guiding the Crimson Bears.
In the early 1980s, Monagle's mother, Kari, played for the Crimson Bears while Bontrager was a volunteer coach. Kari Monagle - Kari Kiefer in her high school days - is now a science teacher at JDHS and is a former Crimson Bear softball coach.
"It makes me feel pretty old, but I couldn't have asked for it to be any better people than Kari and Katie," Bontrager said. "Kari was a terrific kid and is a terrific adult, and Katie is a terrific girl."
Katie will be on the court, her mom will be in the stands and Bontrager will be on the sidelines today and Saturday for the JIVE tourney. The Juneau varsity and JV squads are hosting 10 teams from across the state; tournament details can be found in the accompanying story.
Bontrager served as a volunteer under head coach Peg Gwyther when Kari Monagle played high school volleyball. Kari, who also played basketball and graduated in 1982, was known for her speed on the court.
"She was a setter, and she was just a dynamo - a hard-working kid," Bontrager said. "She could get all over the court."
In the ensuing years, Kari Monagle kept up with the game through the Juneau Parks and Recreation volleyball league. Bontrager eventually became a full-time coach with the Crimson Bears when Sandi Wagner took over the team. Wagner and Bontrager have been coaching together for 17 years; Pat Gorman, the third coach in the trio, has been with the Crimson Bears for 14 years.
"It's the kids," Bontrager said of why he has stayed with the program for so long. "Watching kids accomplish great things is really rewarding."
Over the past couple years, he has watched Katie Monagle put in a lot of work to go from an all-around middle school player to an up-and-coming high school setting specialist.
Bontrager said Katie's dedication is reminiscent of her mother in high school.
"I see the same work ethic," he said. "Katie has put a lot of time in outside the season. ...
"She's not as quick as her mom, but she may be more determined."
Katie is part of a large extended family of Monagle athletes that have gone through JDHS in the past few years. Ryan Monagle, a cousin, was a varsity basketball player who graduated in 2002. Josh and Joe - two more cousins - currently play for the basketball and football teams, respectively.
Then there are the Monagles of years and decades past, and more Monagle athletes are waiting in middle school - including Katie's brother, Travis, who plays soccer. Katie said she enjoys being part of the tradition.
"I love being a Monagle and having all these people ask if Ryan is a cousin or a brother, or if Joe is related, or Josh," Katie said.
Kari Monagle has always been a sports fan - especially for volleyball - but watching Katie has added a whole new dimension. She said today's matches are a lot different than when she played high-school ball.
"The game is faster-paced, and there's a lot more variation. Sandi's serve reception (strategy) is much more complex than what we dealt with," she said.
With her volleyball background, Kari must find a balance between being a spectator and a coach while watching Katie play.
"It's a hard line knowing when to shut up, when to give advice, when to offer suggestions," Kari said.
When it is offered, Katie said she appreciates receiving playing advice from her mom.
"We both have a love for the game," Katie said. "We both love playing it, watching it and talking about it. ...
"Before the season started, she would watch and tell me things to work on, and what I'm doing well on. She's like another coach. She knows what she's talking about."
Last season, Katie and Kari played together during a Crimson Bear parents' volleyball game. Kari said sharing the court with her daughter as an equal was a special experience.
"It was really fun," Kari said, "to have her get to the age where we can interact on that level."
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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