Boys Volleyball: LT’s Pyritz passionate about volleyball
Ryan Temple (left) and Daniel Dorsano of Lyons Township defend the net against Morton. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 9, 2012 11:03AM
It truly is a labor of love for Joann Pyritz when it comes to volleyball, Lyons Township High School and all things associated with these endeavors.
Pyritz has been the only coach the LT boys volleyball team has ever known since it was introduced as an IHSA sport at LT in 1994. She also has led the girls squad since 1989 and has won state titles as a player in 1976 and coach in 2010.
When she’s not coaching, she teaches physical education and also serves as assistant division chairwoman of PE and Health at the school and evidently enjoys every minute she spends at her jobs, which is probably quite a bit more than your average single, working woman. But Pyritz has no complaints on any constraints such a schedule might put on the rest of her life because, as she puts it. “I don’t think you can be a great teacher or a great coach if you don’t really enjoy being at school. It’s what my life has been, and I just really enjoy doing it.”
Pyritz has been at it practically since she left college and also has coached softball, basketball and was an assistant and sophomore volleyball coach before she moved on to varsity.
She admits another of her passions is her Hungarian retrievers, “I treat them as my children,” and spending time at her Wisconsin vacation home. She isn’t really searching for a family-style relationship in her life because she believes she already has one.
“I do a little gardening as a relaxation, but I really enjoy being here at school,” Pyritz said. “I coached three sports for over 20 years. When I took an administrative job I decided to stay with just the boys and girls volleyball and not coach a sport in the winter to give myself an opportunity to work with teachers who I consider my ‘third team’ I coach during the year.
“It’s a commitment, a commitment to an organization and to a sport. But I try to treat the kids like they are my own and the teachers like they are family members. With the kids I hope I do a good job because I try to think of them as people before I think of them as athletes.”
Pyritz admitted that she finds it challenging to coach both the boys and girls volleyball teams and putting together the pieces for a successful program.
“I think I coach both genders in a similar fashion,” she said. “I don’t think that all women can coach men and I don’t think all men can coach women. I think it has to be the right personality. There are certainly differences between the genders, just like there are as it manifests itself in game-play in volleyball. Because of that I try to pick out the unique characteristics of the gender and bring what I can to bring out the best.
“I’ve always said the perfect volleyball player would be a combination of the way a man and a woman play the game. Because in women’s volleyball you get a lot of second efforts defensively, and you get longer rallies, while in men’s volleyball you get such an aggressive game at the net. In women’s volleyball you will get a lot of hits to a spot that are smart hits, and with the men you’ll have players who recognize if they attack hard and are intimidating and go after the point and the kill that matters, too. But in the end, it’s someone who can do both — somebody who can decide in what situation each one of those characteristics is necessary. I try to bring out the strengths in each gender, but also pick up the weaknesses that tend to be part of that individual’s game.”
LT used its height advantage to rise above a scrappy Morton boys volleyball team 25-12, 25-19 Friday night.
The Lions (4-1) had little trouble with the Mustangs (0-2) in the first game as they went up 9-4 and proceeded to score 10 of the next 12 points to cruise to victory.
Senior 6-foot-4 captain Kevin McMahon led the way in Game 1 with six kills (8 total) while senior Jason Dolinski added five kills and an ace in the opening contest and had four kills in Game 2.
“It was a good match for us, we got everyone in and that was good, and we used our height advantage pretty well,” Dolinski said. “We practiced yesterday and didn’t come into the game not practicing at all since we are on spring break, and worked pretty hard in practice and I think we needed that to win.”
Pyritz was able to utilize her entire squad in the second contest, during which juniors Aidan Spangler (5 kills) and Kyle Smuda (3 kills, 3 digs) left their mark on the Mustangs.