Volleyball coach balances two teams and life

Le'Shay Jones, Staff Reporter

There are many Lakeland faculty and staff who have dedicated their time to the college and students.  Although they’re on campus throughout the majority of the day and have much to get done, they have a life outside of Lakeland.  

Sometimes it may be difficult for them to balance their personal life with their work life.

Volleyball Head Coach Ryan Schopf is in his second year at Lakeland and serves as the perfect example of someone maintaining balance.  

At the end of the fall semester, Schopf took on the role as the Men’s volleyball head coach after Head Coach Chris Brandt left Lakeland.

Schopf not only took on the role as the Men’s and Women’s Volleyball head coach, but he and his wife also have a child on the way.

Asked about how he feels about being the coach for both teams, Schopf said, “To be honest, I was very nervous about taking on the men. I’ve always been a women’s coach, but I saw it as a new opportunity, not only for my coaching to grow, but I also thought Lakeland was in need and I needed to be a team player and help out. Especially for Kyle, the one senior on the Men’s team and all these juniors. I didn’t want them to have three coaches in four years.”

Despite having a child on the way, Schopf and his wife decided that it would be best for him to coach both teams.  

“It’s not that coaching one is easier and one is harder. They’re just different in so many ways. The men, for instance, can’t remember when practice is for that night or when study tables are. So I have to make sure I go over every night when’s the next practice, and when we’re lifting. So it’s hard to balance that, because I want to be in my office working on both sports, and working on volleyball related things, whereas the girls, you give them a schedule at the beginning and for the most part they know it by heart by the end of the season. So for the organization piece, the women are a little bit easier at this point. Both teams complement each other so well that it’s making it easier than I thought,” Schopf said.

Schopf puts in long hours in his office, usually being one of the first athletic coaches in the coach’s office, and one of the last to leave.  

He’s dedicated most of his time to volleyball whether he’s in or out of season.  On his way to and from work, he’s constantly contacting recruits or handling some type of business.  One can imagine that he doesn’t get much rest.

Schopf said, “I’m not a sleeper.  My rule is if I’m tossing and turning in bed for more than a half hour to 45 minutes, I’m going to get up and do something productive. So I read a lot, that’s kind of my rest time. So I have a chair in my bedroom and I sit in that chair and read so I’m not up and moving and bouncing, and then every morning I take five to 10 minutes to sit by myself and just make sure I know what’s going on for that day.”

He added, “I get up early enough so that I know I have this going on with the men, this going on with the women and this going on personally. It’s just a little bit of reflection time where my phone is off, my dogs are out of the room, it’s just me.  I think that’s a big part of being able to balance what I do.  I don’t take a lot of me time but I  make sure that every day that there is me time.”

Traveling back and forth from Green Bay to Sheboygan has been something that is really difficult for Schopf to do while his wife is pregnant.  His wife, along with his family, some of his friends and the teams he coaches, have been a great support system over these past couple of years.  

“Traveling, it is worrisome, but my wife and I know that it’s going to work out.  We’ve got each other, we’ve got our family and a strong support system.  So we know things are going to work out,” said Schopf.

However, Schopf said, “The drive has been more difficult knowing that we’re going to bring a child into this world.”

To make traveling easier, Schopf and his wife plan to move to the Manitowoc area.  It will be a shorter ride for him, but a longer one for his wife.  This will make coaching two teams easier to balance.  

Ryan’s wife is a huge supporter of everything he does, and even comes to most of the home games, along with his mother. With their first child arriving any day now, they know that the majority of their focus will be on the baby.

“I will have to spend less time in the office and more time at home, but that’s going to be a new balance.  Now I’m just learning to balance the men and the women, and now I will have to balance volleyball and Lakeland with family.  But I believe Lakeland will help me with that balance, because it is such a small community.  Even the women and men are excited for a child I didn’t have yet,” said Schopf.

“My mom has been a huge help in keeping me grounded, as well as my wife’s family.  I have a few friends that I call that keep me grounded. I also have a friend, who used to be an assistant coach of mine, who keeps me grounded. It’s nice to talk to her, because she doesn’t want to talk about volleyball, but what’s going on in my life and my family,” said Schopf.

Even with the balancing act that Schopf’s life is, one that will become more complicated soon, due to taking on the coaching of both teams, he wouldn’t trade it.

“I love it, I absolutely love it. It’s rejuvenated my volleyball, it’s been a blast and it’s been more fun than I ever thought it would [be],” said Schopf.