Rock Bridge's new volleyball coaches share common bonds

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 | 9:59 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Rock Bridge girls' volleyball coach Tatum Anderson and her assistant, Catie Wilson, may be new to the school and to coaching, but they know each other and the sport well. They've experienced a lot together on and off the court.

Natives of Omaha, Neb., a popular spot for high-level volleyball, the pair's paths crossed early. Their high schools were only a few miles apart, and their volleyball teams were rivals.

"We always had that competitive anger toward each other," Anderson said.

Anger is the last thing you'll see between the two now. They have developed a close friendship that exceeds that of most other hometown acquaintances.

"We get a long well," Wilson said with a laugh.

Their club team, Nebraska Elite, was the place where Anderson and Wilson got to know each other on a more personal level. Wilson, who was a freshman at the time, played on the younger club team with Anderson's sister. Like a young player in any sport, Wilson says she looked up to Anderson, a senior at the time, and wanted to be able to play at the same level one day.

That goal became reality on the Missouri volleyball team where first Anderson, then Wilson, came for a college career. They had only one season together but made the most of it when they played together for the Tigers in the 2007 NCAA tournament.

“I think there’s just a common bond between us,” Anderson said. “It’s just really funny to see how things have turned out. Just crazy to know that when I was 17 and she was 14 we were playing for the same club, and now eight, nine years later we’re coaching together in Columbia, Missouri, of all places.”

After graduating and starting a career, Anderson knew she wanted to coach but was unable to fit it into her schedule until earlier this year. She was moved to a new department at her job in January, and the coaching job became available in February.

“It was perfect,” Anderson said.

Anderson officially became the Bruins coach on Feb. 24, and it was predictable who would become the new assistant.

“She (Catie) and I had been playing volleyball together in an adult league, so I just kind of mentioned it to her,” said Anderson, who also works with Wilson in the marketing department of the same company. “I didn’t know if she’d be interested, and she was.”

The two are not far removed from the game. Anderson is only 25, and Wilson, 22, is a fifth-year undergraduate student at MU and just finished her athletic eligibility last December. They said they hope to use their age to help relate to the Bruins players.

“Most of these girls are going to go Division I in something, and they know we’ve been through it, so they can ask us questions about different things,” Anderson said. “I think that’s a big thing for these girls, knowing that we’ve been through it, it's doable, it's hard work and we’re trying to implement it right now."

Wilson added: “We both came from high schools that won state championships, so we know the level of work you have to put in.”

However, they said their ages also can sometimes be a challenge.

“We’re younger so it’s easier for them to relate to us,” Anderson said. “However, you kind of bounce between that fine line of respect and buddies.”

Anderson and Wilson say they are excited about the chance to win another district championship this year, despite an 0-2 start, and they are eager to add yet another dimension to their friendship.

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