Father, daughter enjoy coach-player relationship for Hickman volleyball team

Tuesday, October 18, 2011 | 8:22 p.m. CDT; updated 8:58 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Hickman junior setter Chloe Kome servers the ball during an Oct. 5 match against the Sacred Heart Gremlins.

COLUMBIA — Before Hickman volleyball games, junior Chloe Kome can be found on the court singing, dancing and fist-pumping to the music playing on the gym's speakers as she warms up with her teammates and prepares for the game.

A few steps away, her dad, James Kome, is seated quietly on the bench, watching. His team's game is finished while hers is just beginning.

This is his first season back as the junior varsity coach. But it has been a much different experience this time around for James Kome, who coached JV at Hickman for several years about a decade ago. He is now getting to share the court with his daughter. Sort of.

Chloe Kome is nearing her senior year at Hickman, and while she shares a close relationship with her father, things are starting to change. Little by little, James Kome is having to let go.

During practice, Chloe Kome is on one side of the gym following the direction of varsity coach Greg Gunn, and James Kome is on the opposite side of the gym giving direction to the JV players.

It's very different from the memories the two share from soccer, where James Kome coached his daughter for several years. In that setting, he was the head coach — the one his daughter answered to.

After Friday's practice, coach Gunn called Chloe Kome over to where he was standing at the corner of the court. Gunn held papers in his hands with season stats and talked them over with her.

A moment later James Kome approached the two but stood a few steps behind and looked over their shoulders. His approach to coaching is no different. Since taking the job this season, James Kome has stuck to coaching his JV team and left the varsity team and his daughter to Gunn.

"I'm kind of peripherally involved with direct feedback, and that's probably a good, healthy way to do it," James Kome said. "I've been her coach in other sports for years, and I think this allows her to be a little more on her own and be able to listen to somebody else without having to listen to her dad nag her at home and on the court as well."

"I would say it's fine for the most part,” Chloe Kome added. "Sometimes there will be those moments where he'll say something, and I'll be like 'ugh, no, Dad' even though I know he's right. For the most part it's easy. It's not bad. I don't really have to listen to him that often."

Of course, as a father, there are times when James Kome does feel that it's his place to step in and help.

"I know her better than any player out here," James Kome said. "I know what she's capable of, and so I feel like I can suggest things as well."

He added jokingly that, like any parent, his suggestions usually come on the car ride home.

James and Chloe Kome's described their relationship as close both on and off the court. They like to do things as a family, especially going out to eat and taking trips together. They said they rarely have arguments or disagreements and that they get along well.

"I've always been a daddy's girl," Chloe Kome said.

With the season coming to an end, James and Chloe Kome have just over a year of volleyball left to share as members of the Kewpies. James Kome says he intends on coaching after his daughter graduates, but of course, it won't be the same.

Things are already starting to change in more ways than one. It's inevitable. It's just one of those things that "daddy's girls" go through.

The two used to ride to school together in the mornings, but that recently stopped when Chloe Kome received her driver's license.

"I don't see her much at school unless she needs money or something like that," James Kome, a media specialist at Hickman, said with a laugh.

No doubt, college will be a tough transition for the two of them. They share a special bond that will likely never be broken. But Chloe Kome's senior year is coming fast, and college will be here before they know it.

In the meantime, volleyball is helping the two make the most of the time they have left.

"I think the fact that they have an opportunity to share this experience together is a dream come true for both of them," Gunn said.

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