Having coached volleyball at both the high school and college levels, Lindsey Petzold has a unique perspective on the game.
She’s been through the ringer of running a preparatory program over nine combined years spent coaching Giddings and Magnolia West, during which she led both programs to plenty of hallmark moments on the hard court. For the past three years, Petzold has been immersed in the detail and recruiting rigors as an assistant coach at McNeese State University.
Through it all, it’s Petzold’s passion for developing high school players that led to her first-ever coaching stop in the Metroplex after being recently named the new head coach at Plano Senior.
“I just fell in love with it. I’m passionate about all sports I coach … and I love being around kids and being able to be a mentor in their lives and helping build them into good people,” Petzold said. “That’s a little bit more difficult at the college level because there are more adults who don’t need guidance as much. I’m just excited to get back into having my own program and being able to share my passion with kids. It’s the greatest feeling in the world when you can see how they react to that and they can share that with you.”
It’s something Petzold got to experience firsthand when she began her coaching career at Giddings (2008-13) and Magnolia West (2014-16) — two stops that helped stoke her passion for molding student-athletes. Along the way, Petzold found success with both programs, from leading Giddings to the playoffs four times in five years, including its first-ever regional quarterfinal trip in 2010, to coaching West to its first-ever district title and playoff appearance in 2015.
Getting back to that mentorship was key in guiding Petzold, whose coaching stops have all come more than 200 miles from Plano, toward the Metroplex.
“Over the last year or so, I did some soul-searching and really feel like I can make the biggest impact at the high school level,” Petzold said. “I had started looking for jobs and the Plano job came open and I applied for it. I think it’s some of the best volleyball in the state up there and really felt like that was where I needed to be if I was offered the job. It’s been a fast and furious last month, but I’m excited.”
Petzold will be making the transition back to the high school ranks after logging three years as an assistant at her alma mater, McNeese State — a job that offered a different look at volleyball’s machinations and some insights she feels will serve her well with the Lady Wildcats.
“I learned about a lot of aspects of the game that the high school world doesn’t really get into. I think things are a lot more technical and I gained a much different perspective going from high school to college and learning how coaches do things a little different, so I’m excited to bring that back,” Petzold said. “Also, on the recruiting side, being a high school coach and helping kids get recruited is much different from being in charge of recruiting kids. But having that first-hand knowledge in knowing what college coaches look for and then really going out and recruiting from a Division I standpoint, that can be a heads up when working with kids who want to play at that level.
“And then I think one of the biggest things I learned is that culture is really important at every level. I think building a culture at all levels is extremely important. I was big on that when I coached high school, and I’m excited to get to Plano and help re-establish that culture this season.”
She’ll have plenty of time to do so — Petzold said that she begins at Plano on Monday and will meet with the volleyball program, ninth grade through 12th, on Tuesday. She’ll take the reins of a Lady Wildcat squad that had a seven-year run of playoffs appearances snapped last season after mustering a sixth-place finish in District 9-6A. Plano returns numerous all-district selections in sophomores Naylani Feliciano and Brooke McHale, plus junior Ellie Tallent and sophomore Samantha Schilt, and graduates only four seniors from its 2019 roster.
“I’m just really interested to see what kinds of kids I have. I know I’ll have athletes and kids who have played a lot of club volleyball, but I want to fit my style to what works best with the kids that I have,” Petzold said. “If we can run a fast offense, then great, and if we don’t then I’ll adapt to what we have. What’s important to me is that kids can be all-around players … and developing kids in a bunch of different skills is something I want to work on this offseason.
“I think the best player is an all-around one who can ball-handle and control the ball in all aspects. It doesn’t meant that big kids in the middle or right side aren’t important, but one thing I emphasize is being able to do all the skills.”
Before, Petzold stressed the importance of culture building — something that will take precedent during the first part of the offseason as she shapes her vision for the Lady Wildcats prior to the beginning of the 2020 season in August.
“I think the ultimate goal when the season rolls around is to get back to the playoffs. That’s something big picture, but what I’m looking for this offseason are kids who come out and work really hard — and that means in the weight room, on the track and on the court, plus coachable kids who can embrace a new coach and want to help build a culture,” she said. “I think the volleyball is going to be there, so I’m excited to mold that, but I’m excited to get in here and build a culture around hard work and character so by August we already know what’s going to happen and we can really get to the X’s and O’s and build towards getting to the playoffs and re-establishing the culture I know had already been in Plano."