NORTHROP -- When Martin Luther High School's new principal Paul Steinhaus applied for his current teaching job, he said he would only take it if he could also coach volleyball.
That was music to last year's new head coach Leslie Wokasch, who wanted to focus solely on her coaching duties for the Knights' girls basketball team.
The new perspective that Steinhaus has brought to the court for the Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain Knights is getting everyone involved excited for the season.
NEW KNIGHTS’ MENTOR — New Martin Luther High School head volleyball coach Paul Steinhaus discusses strategy with hitter Kristi Oberdieck (far left) during Wednesday’s practice in Northrop. Knights’ teammates, from left, Andrea Wiederhoeft, Maisie Bentz, Chelsey Findley and Amber Schulz listen to Steinhaus’ instructions. (Photo by Kjestine Steinbring)
"I think it is a privilege to teach and coach these young ladies life skills," said Steinhaus. "The athletic arena is one of the greatest places to build character and other values that will help you in life. That is one of my main focuses. Teaching them how to be the ultimate teammate and together how to be the ultimate team."
Volleyball as a passion and interest was something that Steinhaus found when he went back to school when he decided to become a teacher.
"I had always liked the sport of volleyball, but had never played it until college," said Steinhaus. "Kind of like changing what I thought my career would be, I can't quite tell you where the interest to play volleyball came from."
After getting hooked on the game as a player at the club level at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, coaching seemed a natural transition.
Steinhaus spent his first year coaching at the junior olympic level in the city of Green Bay in 1995. He then transitioned to assistant coach at a small Lutheran school.
With his predecessor retiring after one year, Steinhaus stepped up to fill the role of head coach. After 15 years and two state tournament appearances, he has amassed 289 career wins.
With plenty of experience both on the court and along the sideline, Steinhaus is bringing another level of excitement and energy to the Knights' volleyball court this season.
"He's brought a lot of really great ideas and works with us every day on techniques for things," said Martin Luther/Granada- Huntley-East Chain senior setter Hunter Payne. "I think that with the new stuff he is showing us, he is helping everybody get so much better. I'm excited to see where this season goes."
The players are not the only ones excited about the upcoming season.
"I think that we have all the puzzle pieces to being a great team. Rachel Shumski is a great natural athlete, we just have to work on her technique, Kristi Oberdieck is also a great hitter and we have Hunter to set," said Steinhaus. "We have piles of potential, now I just have to do my job and help everybody get better."
The new coach already took care of getting his first win of the season, as the Knights downed Adrian on Monday in four games, and is hoping for many more this season.
"I think, as a coach, you are constantly striving for perfection. You want to play the best game you possibly can, and if you get close to that, then you can be successful," said Steinhaus. "My hope is that we can do well and get people in the community excited about our volleyball team."
For now, the players and the coaches are excited to be on the court together, learning new things each day.
"This year we've learned so much already just about the game and different things we can do during the game," said sophomore Rachel Shumski. "I've always liked volleyball, but I'm really starting to love it. Just knowing more and seeing different things has been so exciting."
The Knights will look to add to Steinhaus' early coaching success at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night at Nicollet.