Kate Madsen has no doubts she’s ready and capable of handling the responsibilities she has been given. Neither does her boss.
Madsen, a part-time assistant coach with the Kansas Wesleyan volleyball program the past three seasons, has been promoted to full-time status. It was an easy decision for KWU head coach Jessica Biegert, who enters her fourth season this fall – each with Madsen at her side.
“With the student-athlete experience and retention and all that, Kate was the perfect person,” Biegert said.
KWU is 41-22 over the last two seasons including a 25-11 slate in the Kansas Conference. The Coyotes were 21-9 and 9-3 last fall.
Madsen distinguished herself as a coach multiple times during the 2021-22 school year.
“The last two years she’s been thrown into the fire,” Biegert said. “I think I’ve missed 10 games the last two years due to (COVID-19) quarantines and she had to step up right away and be a head coach. She took the team to Chicago (four games in the Olivet Nazarene Tournament last September) without me. There was no better way of testing her than those things.”
KWU went 4-0 in the tournament but Madsen’s biggest challenge came last winter when she named interim coach for the men’s volleyball team just after the start of the program’s inaugural season.
Despite having never been a head coach or working with men Madsen deftly guided a young and shorthanded team through the season.
“When I took over the men’s team, I definitely had more respect for Jessica and I realized how hard her job is,” Madsen said. “I didn’t have an assistant when I was running the men’s team so I feel like I know what I was struggling with and the help that I needed. So, I feel like I can help that way just because I know more of what’s expected of me now as opposed to before. I feel like it can be a bigger help.”
“I thought she did a good job taking over the program,” Biegert said. “They had some successes in tournaments and their travel schedule was hectic and she did a good job with all of that. She got to do the operations side as well.
“They just needed somebody to care for them and she came in and did that.”
Madsen said there are notable differences when coaching men and women.
“Women want to know why you’re doing things this way; they want you to explain that we’re doing this because it helps with this,” she said. “The guys just want to play; they don’t really care about why we’re doing it. They just want to be competitive. I yelled at them once and afterwards they thanked me for it. You typically won’t get that from women.
“Typically, on the men’s side they start (playing when they’re) a little bit older so they didn’t have the basic skills. But women usually start when they’re like 12 so I think that was the biggest hurdle for us to overcome.”
Madsen won a national championship as a student-athlete helping Cowley College win the 2014 NJCAA Division II title her sophomore year. She attended Wichita State before coming to KWU to begin her coaching career.
“I feel like I’ve really grown into this position very well,” she said. “Jess has taught me a lot. With her being out for COVID and all that and taking the team to Chicago and then taking over the men’s team in the spring I feel like I’m ready.”
This fall will be unique for Madsen.
“What I find really special about all of this is the senior class that we have this year,” she said. “We came in together when they were freshman so I feel like we’ve really grown up together. That’s what’s the most fun, they’ll be seniors my first year as full time.
The large senior class means Madsen will be busy on the recruiting trail.
“Definitely recruiting transfers,” Biegert said. “We’re losing a big class and a strong class and we’ll need some transfers to come in right away and fill some holes. She was a juco kid and knows that process and has been through it.”
Madsen’s eager to get started.
“Looking forward to it a lot,” she said. “With all the returners that we have I think this year is going to be super fun.”