Senior Maddie Moyer had her sights set on eclipsing her father's athletic feats when she was in middle school.
The Sherwood High School girls volleyball setter had a lot to live up to. Her dad and Sherwood assistant coach, Joe Moyer, reached the men's volleyball Final Four three times while playing for Ball State from 1988-91.
“Just seeing pictures of him setting and his medals, that pushed me,” Maddie said. “I told him when I was little, 'I'm going to earn more medals than you.' Ever since then I've been keeping them all on my shelf. I have his counted and I want to beat him.”
With two 4A state titles already and possibly a third coming (Monday's state championship match against Arundel ended too late to be included in this edition of The Gazette), Maddie is in good position to reach her goal. But without her dad's motivation and guidance throughout her volleyball career, she may not have had the chance to achieve what she has in her four years at Sherwood.
Joe had Maddie playing volleyball as soon as he could — “I had Maddie playing right out of the crib,” he said. Once she turned 10, Joe signed her up to play in a recreational league and with the team lacking a coach, he naturally filled in.
Joe was her coach through those developmental years. But once Maddie reached high school, he stepped back.
“I wanted to let her go on her own,” Joe said. “I didn't want to coach her. She had to earn it.”
And she did, making the Warriors' varsity team as a freshman.
A year later, Joe was invited by Sherwood head coach Brian McCarty to join his staff and Moyer accepted. That same year, Sherwood made it to the state finals and Maddie was starting at setter.
Once again, volleyball was an important part of the Moyer family's life. But the pair was good about separating the coach-player relationship from the father-daughter dynamic.
“I think he got the point that after a while I got annoyed when volleyball was the only thing we talked about,” Maddie said with a laugh. “But he's better when I say, 'Dad, we're done for the night. Practice is over.' Then he's back to being my dad. But I'm used to him being my coach. It's great. ... He's the best coach I've ever had and an amazing dad.”
Their relationship wouldn't be the same without volleyball. Joe thinks that will prove to be more and more true as the years pass by.
“It's brought us so close together,” Joe said. “My wife says she's definitely a daddy's girl.
“I think we'll both appreciate it down the road more when she's walking down the aisle to get married or when she has a kid — we [will] always have this together. It's an unbelievable bond.”