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MNU hires new head volleyball coach

By Christian Stewart
Mar 28, 2017

Starting with a pool of more than 20 applicants seeking to fill its head coaching vacancy, MNU volleyball had plenty of candidates looking to take the reins of the program. Now, new head coach Christina Ludwick has the unique challenge of taking a winning program to the next level.

Ludwick got her collegiate head coaching start at Central Christian College (Kansas), where she inherited a team that went 1-26 in 2012. In 2014, Ludwick’s team made the MCAC playoffs. In 2015, Central Christian set the school record for wins in a single season. Ludwick then went to St. Thomas University (Florida) where she spent one season and led the team to a 25-7 record.

Now Ludwick steps in to lead a program that won the Heart of America Conference and went to the NAIA national tournament last season. As she begins at MNU, Ludwick said that she is going to focus on building off of pre-existing talent rather than breaking down the dynamics currently at work in the team.

“I really want to make sure that the girls know that the people I’m recruiting are to complement them,” Ludwick said. “It’s not a situation where I need to clean house and make a thousand changes.”

Ludwick was also optimistic about the state of the MNU volleyball program and said that there are clear advantages to joining a program with a history of recent success.

“The fact that they have been successful really helps, because you’re not teaching a team how to win,” Ludwick said.

With previous years of winning to build on, Ludwick said that if the team is open to her methods, there is enough talent to push the team to new heights.

“I fully expect to be in Iowa [for the NAIA national tournament] at the end of the year in 2017, and I fully expect us to be competitive in Iowa,” Ludwick said.

New head volleyball coach Christina Ludwick stands in front of last season’s Heart of America Conference championship banner. Now, Ludwick says she is seeking to build on last season’s success. Photo by Chace Owen.New head volleyball coach Christina Ludwick stands in front of last season’s Heart of America Conference championship banner. Now, Ludwick says she is seeking to build on last season’s success. Photo by Chace Owen.

Ludwick fills the void left by former head coach Kristin Steele, who resigned from the program this past winter. Ludwick is the first permanent head coaching hire since new Director of Athletics Todd Garrett was appointed in January. Garrett said that Ludwick was a good fit for the team, meeting the standards that the program was looking for in its next leader.

“When you look to refill, you’re checking boxes, and she checked a lot of those boxes,” Garrett said. “She fit to the institution, [she has] competitive coaching experience, a proven track record of success on the court and the ability to lead young women.”

According to Garrett, the process of hiring Ludwick began when the head volleyball coaching position was listed on MNU’s website and the NAIA’s Career Center page, leading to more than 20 applicants expressing interest in the job. Garrett said that a five-person panel of MNU staff narrowed down the number of applicants.

“We pruned it down to somewhere in the neighborhood of a top 10, then we pruned that list down to a top five or six for Skype interviews,” Garrett said.

The hour-long Skype interviews narrowed the pool down to a final three applicants who were then invited for an on-campus interview where all three spoke with university president Dr. David Spittal, Garrett said. At the conclusion of these final interviews, the decision was ultimately made by the hiring committee to offer the head coaching position to Ludwick.

Senior setter and 2016 first-team NAIA All-American Rachel Kater said that she and her teammates are excited for the change of pace that will come with Ludwick at the helm.

“I think we’re all a little bit excited for something new and for a new chance to catapult our success to a higher level, because we know we’re capable of it,” Kater said. “I liked that she said that she wants to keep us as the powerhouse in our conference. We definitely all have our eyes locked on a national championship.”

Christian Stewart

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Christian Stewart is a student at MidAmerica Nazarene University and a reporter for The Trailblazer.

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