HEBRON | Kelly Dickensheets isn’t sure sometimes if she’s stepped into a time machine when she arrives at practice with the Hebron girls volleyball team.
Taking one look around the court, Dickensheets sees the faces of old, hears the voices of teams gone by, and even recognizes the mannerisms of players who haven’t worn the Hebron uniform in 30 years.
Counting the boys volleyball team, Dickensheets has coached 10 players this season that are children of players she also coached while at Hebron. The similarities between the generations are striking.
“You better believe I see their parents in them when they’re on the court,” Dickensheets said. “A couple of the girls are not as confident as their moms, but I try not to make comparisons.”
Dickensheets took over the Hawks in 1979 after the former coach left due to a pregnancy. Still a bit green at 23, Dickensheets was frustrated that her players would often look to the stands at the former coach during games. After offering to resign if the players wanted the old coach back, Dickensheets gained the confidence of the team and led the Hawks to the sectional championship.
“I ended up winning that sectional and I was told that winning just saved my job,” Dickensheets said.
One of the players on that first team was Sharon (DeYoung) McKay. Thirty-five years later, McKay and Dickensheets are best friends and McKay’s two daughters, Sasha and Taylor Pass, are on this season’s team. Dickensheets sees much of McKay in the two players, but still isn’t afraid to coach those sitting in the stands after all these years.
“It doesn’t matter if I coached your mom or dad or if you’re a school board member,” Dickensheets said. “Sharon is as close to a best friend as I’ve got and if I have to bench her kids, I’ll do it. I want my players to play and start, not because their dad or mom started for me.”
The similarities are endless between the generations as Hebron’s top player this year, setter Natalie Kaczmarski, is the daughter of Julie Fisher. Kaczmarski is Hebon’s nominee for the Porter County Conference Mental Attitude Award this year, an award her mother won in 1983.
As tradition through the family generations is important to Hebron volleyball, so is winning the PCC tournament. Dickensheets, who plans on returning next season, can ballpark the years that the Hawks have won sectional and regional titles, but she has pinpoint accuracy when talking about the PCC tournament.
“It’s huge, no question,” Dickensheets said. “It’s what the season is in this conference. We don’t have the best record and we’re probably among the least favorite of any team (to win), but I love this group of girls. We can play loose and we don’t have any pressure.”