The night her team advanced to the state tournament in 2007, Sycamore volleyball coach Debbie Klock went and sat next to her father’s gravestone.
Klock knew how much her success at Sycamore would have meant to her biggest supporter, who died just after she accepted the job, and she wanted to share that special moment with him.
“It meant a lot,” Klock said. “He was just a big supporter.”
Sycamore’s longest-tenured coach announced Tuesday that she’s decided to call it a career, and another family member is a big reason why. Klock had her first grandchild recently, which is one of the reason’s she’ll step away from the game two wins shy of 500.
“It’s time for me now to put things into perspective, and spend time in areas that I feel are important to me in my life right now, like my grandchild and things like that,” Klock said. “My family has made huge sacrifices throughout my career.”
Klock left Hiawatha in 1995, where she was the head coach for four years, to head to Sycamore, where she took over a struggling program. She turned the Spartans around immediately, improving the team’s record from 11-18 to 18-11. In her 18 years as head coach, Klock’s teams have recorded at least 20 wins 15 times, and she’s won seven conference championships.
Two years after her first trip to the state tournament in 2007, Klock’s Spartans returned in 2009 and finished third for the second time. After a rough year in 2011, Klock ended her career on a high note, guiding the Spartans to their first Northern Illinois Big 12 East title.
“She’s an extremely hard worker, and she’s put her heart and soul into making volleyball at Sycamore into a household name around the state,” Sycamore athletic director Chauncey Carrick said. “We’re extremely happy with what Debbie’s done with the program, and we’re going to miss her.”
Klock has a reputation for building volleyball players out of kids who don’t necessarily fit the mold for the sport, and 30 of her players have gone on to play in college.
She won’t walk away from the sport completely – she plans on coaching clinics and camps for young kids.
But her days of coaching high schoolers are over, and she’ll retire as the winningest volleyball coach in school history. She’ll retire from teaching physical education next year.
“I think I’ve been the luckiest coach ever. Sycamore has been amazing,” Klock said. “Coaches dream of being at state, and I went twice, so I think that’s just phenomenal.”