SHEFFIELD — Most new coaches take over programs that are on the decline or just treading water, but Karlee Bruck won’t have that problem.
Bruck, a 2007 Elyria High School graduate and volleyball player at the University of Michigan, is the new volleyball coach at Brookside High School.
She replaces Ted Whitsel, who left the program in outstanding shape when he stepped down after 14 years on the job, handing Bruck a team that is the two-time defending Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division champion and a winner of 35 straight conference matches.
“I was always open to coming back home to Lorain County,” said Bruck, who spent last year as head coach at Clinton High School in Clinton, Mich. “In fact, I was open to really going anywhere and had opportunities to do so. But this really feels like the perfect job for me. Ted has done a terrific job there and it was one of the higher-profile openings out there.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to step in and keep the tradition going.”
“Ted has done a tremendous job building the program,” Brookside athletic director Dick Kerschbaum said. “He leaves on top and he will be missed.
When we went looking for his replacement, we wanted someone who has been a head coach and been involved in high-powered programs.
“Karlee has that experience and I expect she is going to be very successful here.”
Bruck, who earned three varsity letters in volleyball at Elyria and was second team All-Ohio as a senior, earned four letters for the Wolverines, as well. A medical redshirt as a freshman after being diagnosed with diabetes, she came back to help lead the Wolverines to four straight NCAA Sweet 16 tournament appearances.
She also holds the University of Michigan single-match record for attack percentage (.818).
She led Clinton through a rebuilding year, bringing up several junior varsity players as replacements for key seniors lost to graduation, and the team finished a surprising fourth in the 10-team Tri-County Conference.
Bruck felt good about where the Clinton program was headed and was looking forward to the upcoming season when her grandfather told her about the opening at Brookside.
After doing some research, she applied for and got the job.
Bruck sat down with Kerschbaum and Whitsel after landing the job. While the meeting could have simply been a formality, it turned into much more than that.
“Ted spoke about the program and each member of the team,” Bruck said. “Even though I haven’t met them yet, I feel like I know them. We covered a lot of ground in that meeting and Ted is going to be someone that I can keep in contact with as we move along.
“I have a lot of confidence in my abilities. I am going to bring in some new things but I will be keeping what has been working.”
Bruck also honed her coaching skills at several camps Michigan held and with two years of Junior Olympics.
Brookside will hold a meet-and-greet for Bruck on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the high school cafeteria. Kerschbaum said the entire Brookside community is invited.
Contact Hans Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org or 329-7135.