This type of recruiting is vastly different from her 15 seasons as volleyball coach at Black Hills High School, where recruiting was limited to the students attending the school and the ones who might have walked into her office wanting to play the sport.
“I felt like a rookie (Monday),” Peterson said. “It’s the beginning all over again. It’s an exciting beginning.”
Peterson was introduced Monday as the Saints’ new coach, jumping from a longtime high school coach to the helm of an NCAA Division II college program.
Officially, this is Peterson’s second stint at SMU. In early 2000, she accepted the offer to coach volleyball at Saint Martin’s, only to resign six weeks later – well before the 2000 season began. She said back then it didn’t feel like the right time to take the job. Now, she’s in a better place to take over a college program.
“This time around, the situation is way different,” Peterson said. “I’ve lived a lifetime since then.”
She inherits a struggling program that hasn’t finished higher than eighth in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference since the NWC was formed in 2001. The Saints were eighth in the fall with a 3-15 GNAC mark and 6-18 overall record.
One of the team’s top returning players is junior-to-be Kristyn Ross, an outside hitter and 2011 Capital High School graduate who was the GNAC’s co-freshman of the year in 2011.
Peterson said retaining local talent is a necessity. Thurston County has become a hotbed for high school volleyball talent. In the past two years alone, three teams – Olympia, Tumwater and North Thurston – have played for state titles in their respective classifications, with Olympia winning the 4A state title in 2011. In 15 seasons at Black Hills, Peterson guided the Wolves to 12 state tournament appearances, including 10 top-eight finishes, and a 213-93 overall record (.689).
“Saint Martin’s could be the premier mecca of volleyball,” said Peterson, a four-year letterwinner in volleyball at the University of Washington (1981-84). “The whole culture has to change.”
In a release, SMU athletic director Bob Grisham said, “I feel fortunate we are able to bring in a coach with Kara’s knowledge and experience to coach our volleyball team. We have a solid nucleus of returning players and I’m looking forward to her taking our program to the next level.”Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com theolympian.com/southsoundsports