With her second child expected to arrive in May, Jade Schmidt recently stepped down as head coach of Belgrade’s volleyball team.
Schmidt submitted her resignation in mid-January and then informed her returning players of the decision during a team meeting on Feb. 7.
“Just knowing the time commitment, I wouldn’t be able to give a hundred percent to the girls. The game days, home and away, are just too long,” said Schmidt. “Even home games, being at the gym from 3-9 and not being able to help my husband when we’ve got two (children) under 3 is just the biggest thing.”
Schmidt had a highly successful run as coach. The Panthers reached the state Class A tournament during all seven of her season’s at the helm and won a state championship in 2014.
The 2017 and 2018 squads each finished as the state runner up, while the 2016 team place third. Belgrade won five divisional titles under her leadership and was the runner up twice.
“We’re the largest A school. We should be good athletically. We have more people to choose from,” said Schmidt. “Seeing that program grow and seeing the work that the girls have put in over the years has just been extremely rewarding.”
Schmidt’s teams posted an overall record of 162-42 during her tenure, and the victory total is the best in program history. While that success, and the trophies that came with it were gratifying, what she takes the most pride in is the development and growth of the program.
“We were really blessed with phenomenal community support with just a growing interest in volleyball in general. Not just here, it’s nationally,” said Schmidt. “But just being able to be a part of that has been very rewarding. Just seeing how much the girls have grown and the program has grown from three teams to having five teams this fall, that’s something I’m extremely proud of.”
Belgrade has boasted 20 or more victories in five of the past seven years, including a program record 30 victories this past season during a 30-4 campaign.
That success has brought plenty of recognition to the program and more than a dozen players have moved on to the collegiate level. That includes three of the team’s seniors from this past season — setter Jaiden Blakely, outside hitter Bailey Christensen, and middle blocker McKenna Carlson — and a returning senior (Taylor Christensen) who has signed early.
“We’ve had at least one kid in every class that’s moved on to the college level and have done some cool things there,” said Schmidt. “That’s been pretty cool.”
While Schmidt has stepped down as head coach, she is by no means abandoning the program. She plans to be around quite often in the fall and hopes to help out as a volunteer coach.
“What I’ve talked to our administration about is depending on who they hire, if they’re willing to have me, I’d love to be around as much as possible as a volunteer next year. Really at whatever level they want me at,” Schmidt said. “I love the sport so much and I love the girls in our program so much that it was heart-wrenching honestly to tell them that I wouldn’t be back. So I’ll be around.”