Manistee Catholic Central begins new chapter with freshman head coach Sasha Szymanksi


Coach Kaitlin Heck is out. Sasha Szymanski is in the game.

With a new coach keen to build a strong program that will bring back four seniors in 2022, Manistee Catholic Central Volleyball could be on the verge of making big strides in developing what Szymanksi wants to build. However, renovations to the Sabers gymnasium begin Sept. 1, which means MCC will play mostly on the road this season.

Coaches corner

“This program needs to be developed and to have some kind of solidarity,” Szymanski said. “My kids go to Catholic Central, so I’ll be there for a while. I hope to grow that program a bit more. I’m excited to be coaching at this level again.”

Key losses

  • Josie Ziehm (graduate)
  • Elena Pizana (graduate)

Key turners

  • Kaylin Johnson (senior)
  • Lea Stickney (senior)
  • Ana Watkins (senior)

What do you want to know

Szymanski isn’t going into his new role blind. She served as the Sabers’ junior varsity coach last season and knows the roots of the program.

“It’s going to be beneficial for me as a coach and also for the girls,” she said. “They already feel comfortable with me and trust me as a coach. They saw what I did last year and they know what to expect. They know I’m going to improve their volleyball skills. I think we’re going to have a good team this year.”

As for the roster she inherits, Szymanksi is delighted with the traits her four returning seniors are showing in practice so far.

“They have heart, they have dedication, real courage,” she said. “The excitement they show in every training is going to instill in our underclassmen. It will show them how to really move forward, to improve their skills. I’m really excited about the experience we have in this team. “


Any team with a home game to start the season and play the rest of the year on the road, regardless of age, is a daunting task. There is a difference in preparation, readiness and routine when playing at home or on the road.

Either the Sabers will start showing fatigue in mid-October and burn down some neighborhoods, or they’ll find a way to make life on the road feel like home. Knowing how tightly knit MCC is as a whole, the latter seems the most likely. The Sabers will be competitive at least in 2022.

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