Most Roo Tales are about men. It’s just baked into the cake when
writing 100-year old stories. The past is full of inequity; athletics
is no exception. Sport in the early 20th century was the exclusive
province of males, and most Roo stories come from this era.
Nevertheless, I always look for opportunities to stray.
of women in sport is like the story of women in America………a long
struggle to find their well-deserved place at the table. I’ve written
about AC women’s basketball, softball, and tennis; these stories have
been some of my favorites. However, there is still one huge sport with
significant female participation that has been glaringly absent for some
time. Time to change that.
Coach Ed Garza
has been at the helm of Austin College volleyball for nearly a quarter
century. Coach Garza recorded his 600th win at AC just last month; his
teams consistently post 20-win seasons. Check out the number of likes
on Coach Garza’s 600-win post from last month (see the comments).
That’s a whole bunch of former players and future coaches who have moved
on from AC volleyball to write their own stories. Players like Jessica Saunders, President of the “A” Board, Kaitlin Shores, recently inducted into the AC Hall of Honor, and Kelly Brianne
McDaniel, who has followed Garza into coaching. Kelly, now a
volleyball coach herself at East Central (San Antonio) HS, says the
following of Garza:
“[Coach] Garza truly cares about this sport
and his teams. My first weekend ever playing for him in 2009 he reached
his 400th win. My senior year we got him his 500th. I have never had a
coach that was so truly dedicated to this game.”
tenure in Sherman began just after my own departure from AC in the early
1990s. Back then, I was honored to win the Carroll Pickett award for
tennis at the AC Athletics Convocation. I still have a photo from that
evening, and there are some heavy hitters in that picture. Mark Murphy (football), Kyle Matlock (baseball), and Amber Sprouse Mcgregor (swimming) are there. So is Jimmy Baird (football) and Barry Holcomb (swimming). I see Marcie Kobos’s spouse Phil
as well; Phil earned the basketball award, and their son is currently
playing hoops for the Roos. But I’m more interested in a different
person in the photo today. The Roo who won the Volleyball award: Coach
Heather Woods Sanders of New Braunfels.
When you think of New Braunfels & AC, you probably think of the
Kyle family. Any Roo who attended AC from the late 1980s thru the early
1990s is familiar with the athletic success of Matt, Kat, and Jennifer.
Why, just last week I was chatting with Jennifer at homecoming about
her winning the Pickett award for tennis alongside a stellar AC
volleyball career. When you think of New Braunfels, however, the person
who truly should come to mind is Coach Sanders.
For a quarter
century, Heather Sanders has coached volleyball at New Braunfels Canyon
High School. Like Coach Garza, Sanders has 600 wins to her name. Her
Cougar squads consistently appear in the Texas High School volleyball
playoffs, and have numerous state tournament appearances. I mentioned
to spouse Brien Sanders during Jason Johnson’s
Hall of Honor induction that a Roo Tale would be appropriate when that
first Canyon state title eventually arrived. Brien was an offensive
lineman on the 1988 TIAA conference champion Roo football team; just
like Jason (h/t Lisa Lindsay Johnson), Heather also sits in the AC Hall of Honor.
Heather was featured in the January 2017 Austin College magazine when
AC devoted an issue to former Roo players who had made their mark in the
coaching ranks. The piece, written by Leigh-Ellen Clark Romm, includes a quote from Coach Sanders:
“’My liberal arts education gave me an appreciation for all sorts of
perspectives on all sorts of issues,’ Heather said. ‘As an educator, you
encounter people from many backgrounds and perspectives on life.’
Heritage classes, study abroad in Paris, and an international studies
class in Washington, D.C., laid her foundation of broadened thinking. On
that foundation, she works with her students to see them reach their
Those sentiments expressed by Coach Sanders
meshed nicely with a coaching article I was fortunate to write for the
January 2017 Austin College magazine. That article, titled “Roo Coaches
are Educators First,” could have easily been written about Coach
The Canyon Cougars march through the 2019 regular season
included a district victory against Coach Kelly Brianne McDaniel’s East
Central HS Hornets. It was Roo vs. Roo, and Canyon emerged on top. Of
Sanders, Kelly says the following: “I have definitely had Heather
Sanders as an amazing mentor.”
Canyon Volleyball’s regular season
has ended, and the Cougars once again begin a playoff run in search of a
Texas High School championship. Their first playoff game will be on
Tuesday, November 5th, and their opponent is a familiar one to the
Parrish family: our own James Bowie Bulldogs from Austin, TX. Bowie
volleyball is led by a very special player.
Austin College Kangaroo John Cotton and I have worked side by side with Faye Godwin for nearly 20 years. Faye is also a close friend of Dianne’s and my neighbor Conny Kohler Ruthven.
We’ve watched with delight as daughter Caitlin Godwin has transformed
into an elite volleyball player. Beach volleyball is specifically her
strength; Caitlin will be attending Florida State on a sand volleyball
scholarship next year. As a senior at Bowie, she was lured back for one
final indoor VB season with the Bulldogs. We’ve watched her guide
Bowie to a playoff appearance with upset wins over teams like district
champion Lake Travis. The Austin American Stateman ran a piece on
Caitlin after the win over Lake Travis, and included an awesome photo of
her celebrating and surrounded by teammates. Godwin was later named
Statesman player of the week.
Interestingly, Caitlin’s volleyball coach in Jr. High was Kim Jacoby, a Roo who played volleyball alongside Coach Sanders and the Kyles in Sherman under Garza’s predecessor Coach Connie LaBorde.
Coach Jacoby is also a good friend of the Godwins. On the way to the
playoffs, Bowie knocked off Ryan Drake’s Austin High Maroons. Ryan, a
fine volleyballer herself, is the daughter of Kangaroo Lindsey Drake. Lindsey is also a close friend of another one of our neighbors, LuAnn Glowacz. Austin Volleyball families, like Roo families, are tight.
So the 2019 Texas High School volleyball playoffs begin next week with
the Bowie Bulldogs facing the New Braunfels Canyon Cougars on Tuesday.
Game time 7pm at Canyon Lake High School. Both schools have strong Roo
ties in a sport that has been a consistent winner in Sherman. Who will
I be pulling for? Hey, I’m not gonna answer that question. However,
you better believe that the school which emerges with a victory will
have my fandom all the way to a state title. Good luck to the Godwin
family, my colleagues for nearly 20 years. Well done Sanders family on
20+ years of awesome volleyball in New Braunfels.
to Roo Coach Ed Garza on win #600 this past fall; thank you for nearly
25 years at Austin College. Coach Garza’s former players are a family
that I’m only now beginning to know well, and I know there are more
great Roo volleyball stories yet to be told. I bet this one is only the