Coach and Me is a series of stories during the 2021-22 school year that reflect on the relationships between coaches and their children. It will also be a reflection of memories for Tony Chapman and his dad, who passed away July 6, 2021.
NORRIS MIDDLE SCHOOL GYM, HOME — Coach always put a lot of quotes in the front of his playbook. Some motivational thoughts. Some things he believed in for football and life.
“It is our belief that football should be fun. And, we will have the most fun by working hard together and playing winning football.”
So, it’s easy for me to know that coach would have loved to see Maisie Boesiger play volleyball for top-ranked Norris this fall and to see her enjoy playing for her mom, Christina.
Maisie has fun — if you can’t see it on her face you are missing something — and you know it right from the first serve. Volleyball, well, it’s in her blood.
“She was born the same night I was coaching in a tournament — five weeks early,” coach Boesiger said after the Titans punched a state trip with a 59-minute sweep of Blair on Saturday. “She really has been in the gym ever since. I took off a week with her, wow that’s hard to say now.
“She has lived in the gym ever since.”
Like anyone who grew up there, Maisie can tell you every detail. She’s had 100s of sisters right along with her all the way. She made a fast friend — fellow senior Ella Walters — when their mom’s were coaching the Titans.
“Every day, we’d come to practice,” Maisie says, with that infectious smile from ear-to-ear and points toward the south. “We’d build fortresses over in the weight room with the mats. Lot’s of house. How many times can we pass it back and forth when we were this tall (she holds her hand below her waist).”
I’d love to tell Maisie that she doesn’t know how good she had it growing up with “coach” but I think she already knows. Volleyball has taught her — all the Boesiger’s really — about life.
It’s a total family affair now.
Dad and husband, Chris, is the PA announcer for the Titans and 7th grader Malorie waits her turn as a student manager. There is nowhere else for the Boesiger’s to be.
Christina played on the 1991 Norris volleyball state championship team, went to play at Nebraska Wesleyan and then came home. She assisted coach Ann Schroeder in 1999, took over the program in 2000 and led the Titans to consecutive Class B titles in 2013 and 2014.
Mom and dad had the best baby sitters.
“Their dreams started with watching girls play who babysat them when they were young,” coach Boesiger said. “That has been one of the coolest things is having them be around other student athletes who have the same goals and dreams.
“They taught a lot of girls — not just mine — to dream big.”
Maisie realizes that it’s her turn now.
“I was the little girl who went to everything,” Maisie says. “I was at every practice and played in the background. The girls were always so welcoming and it was a second family. Mom always had those girls over to our house. I wanted to be just like them.
“They told me it’d be me someday. It’s crazy to think about. Malorie and her friends are always here watching and love to be our ball girls. It’s important to remember that they are always watching and to be a good role model.”
There are no little fortresses anymore, but Maisie and her teammates have been mostly impossible to attack this fall. Much, like, well, a fortress. The Titans will take a school record 33 wins up the road to Lincoln against just two losses. They will be trying to end Omaha Skutt’s six-year stranglehold on Class B.
They are the winningest class in Norris volleyball history. They have the knowledge of getting to the championship match last year and have leaders who know exactly what that adrenaline feels like. The season will end this week and in the moment the final result will matter.
But, the lessons have been learned and the memories — oh, the memories — they will last forever. The result of this week might fade away.
“Before the game when Chris said her name, I got teary-eyed,” mom said, but with a smile now. “She’s helped me. She said, ‘I can’t be sad, this is the best four years. I would not trade my experience for anything.’
“Our team has developed a love and passion for the game, but I want them to take away more than the wins and losses and just the little things that we do to build strong, confident women. We just want them to know that we always — 100 percent — believe in them.”
People have slowly faded out of the gym by now, but the Norris setter is still talking. I’m thinking of coach.
“What’s it been like to play for your mom,” I say. Always the hardest question to ask.
“I love playing for her,” Maisie says. “I can’t believe it’s the last…..”
We are both crying now. “I can’t imagine playing for anyone else.”
It won’t be Maisie’s last trip to Lincoln this week — she’ll play for Nebraska next fall — but it might be the one that ends up being the most special. Those last few practices and film sessions. The bus rides with her best friends. The life lessons from all of her coaches.
And, the memories of being a dreamer will all come back. The little girl who had the whole world in front of her, her heroes and a coach by her side. Those extra special memories of Coach and Me.
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