GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Portage hires Zofkie as girls volleyball coach

2011-04-30T22:00:00Z Portage hires Zofkie as girls volleyball coachBy Jim Peters jim.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com
April 30, 2011 10:00 pm  • 

With three coaches in five years, the Portage girls volleyball program as had a revolving door.

Brian Zofkie hopes to stop all the comings and goings.

"That was part of the interview process. They were looking for someone who would be a long-term solution to turn things around and build a successful program," Zofkie said. "With the resources, the assets the school has, the foundation is there. The potential is there."

Zofkie replaces Erin Plumlee, who is working toward her clinical in psychology.

"We knew she was only going to be here a short time, but she was the best person at the time," Portage athletics director Jeff Smith said. "When we re-evaluated the position, we wanted to get somebody in education who was going to be here as a teacher for hopefully the next 10, 15 years, and give the kids the attention they deserve."

In six years at Class 3A Evergreen Park, Zofkie won the South Suburban Conference title every season, in addition to four regional titles (the equivalent of sectional in Indiana) and reached three sectional (regional) finals.

"I'm pretty proud of what we accomplished," said Zofkie, who played three years of volleyball at Brother Rice in Chicago before going to St. Norbert (Wis.) for football. "The level of competition was pretty steep. We were often competing against bigger schools. The volleyball culture (at Evergreen Park), it's a smaller school (900), but there's a tremendous commitment and a lot of expectations. I'm hoping that will translate to Portage."

Portage won its last sectional in 2006. It was its first title in 30 years.

"I'm not naive to think it will happen overnight." Zofkie said. "We're having to build from the ground up. But I'm not out to go 10-22 either. I understand the challenge. I'm familiar with the Duneland Conference, the opposition we're up against, but I'm ready to meet it head on."

That will take a commitment to excellence currently lacking.

"That's our buzz word," Sofkie said. "There hasn't been a whole lot of commitment to volleyball. It's been second class to other sports. Kids aren't doing a lot in the off-season, playing club, traveling. It's been like, 'OK, we had a good season,' roll out the balls and have fun. That needs to change. We need to start winning games and developing players."

Zofkie met Wednesday with the coaches at the younger levels in order to put everybody on the same page, something that's also been an issue.

"You have to have a common philosophy," he said. "The skills have to be taught in the lower levels and be gradually built up so when they get to varsity, they're ready to achieve some success."

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