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Volleyball alum working wonders at Heartland Lutheran

By on Oct. 2, 2015 in Volleyball

Volleyball alum working wonders at Heartland Lutheran

By Jake Knabel, Director of Athletic Communications

As her college head coach looked on, Carli (Smith) Lindeman worked the sideline at Heartland Lutheran High School like a savvy veteran. She displayed the same infectious enthusiasm and passion that helped make her an all-conference performer with more than 1,700 career digs as a four-year stalwart for the Concordia University volleyball team.

Fourth-year Bulldog head coach Scott Mattera swelled with pride while observing someone he coached from 2012 to 2014.

“That was a special night for me to see that,” Mattera said. “Not just because it was one of my former players coaching, it was the way that she was coaching. It almost choked me up for a minute. She was so positive and so energetic.”

Lindeman soaked up everything she could while playing one season for Rachel Miller and three for Mattera. In just a short time, Lindeman has instilled a growing confidence in the Red Hornets, who are off to a 13-1 start and are ranked No. 5 at the Nebraska high school Class D-1 level. Her positivity and love for the game have been the perfect fit at Heartland Lutheran.

Despite having limited coaching experience, Lindeman is working wonders. With everything being so new, the native of Temecula, Calif., went into it with few expectations.

“Basically it was a clean slate for me and for them to do the best we can,” Lindeman said. “My main goal was to really push these girls and coach them to be the best they can be. Coaches have done that for me in the past. I didn’t have huge expectations because I didn’t know. I just wanted to coach these girls to be the best they can be. They have responded well to that and they’re playing very, very well.”

Mattera helped Lindeman land the job through a connection with Heartland Lutheran Assistant Principal/Activities Director Tim Leech, also a Concordia alum. When Mattera learned Lindeman and her husband David would be moving to Grand Island, a light bulb turned on. Lindeman, who got her degree in exercise science, had not necessarily dreamt of coaching, but the opportunity seemed too good to pass up.

It didn’t take long for Leech and Lindeman to hash things out. Mattera says an agreement was reached in just a matter of hours. Lindeman would take over a program that went 19-11 in 2014.

“When Scott brought it up I didn’t have a job yet,” said the May 2015 graduate. “I was like, ‘you know what, why wouldn’t I take this experience?’ I’ve played volleyball my whole life. I love it. Since I’m done actually playing it now at the college level, I just want to share my talents and knowledge about the game and make girls better. That’s why I wanted to do it. I wanted to share the love I have for the sport.”

Lindeman has impressed her activities director at every turn. Her approach has churned out results never seen for Red Hornets volleyball.

“This group of girls has absolute faith in their coaches and each other and this is something that Carli has been able to create,” Leech said. “They share a bond that is evident on the court as teams are not able to shake the confidence in the team. Their record of 13-1 with a No. 5 ranking in the state is easily the best the program has ever seen and these girls get a lot of credit, but it is the positive, Christ-first, calm, disciplined approach of Carli that has created an environment of trust and high expectation amongst the team. Without Coach Carli, this team would not be where it is today, or have the expectations and goals they have for being even better tomorrow.”

Along with her duties as head volleyball coach, Lindeman also works at Grand Island Physical Therapy every day from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. She then heads to Heartland Lutheran for practice from roughly 3:30 to 5 p.m.

Clearly Lindeman has made the most of the hour-and-a-half she has each day with her Red Hornets. The girls have responded to her immense positivity.

“Every team is going to be a little bit skeptical with a new coach coming in,” Lindeman said. “That’s how we were at Concordia when Rachel Miller left and we had Coach Mattera come in. I’ve come in and I understand girls and where they’re at. I was in high school just five years ago. I know what they’re going through outside the sport and on the court. I have that fresh knowledge of the game. I think they have responded really well. We get along great. I absolutely love the girls. They make it a great experience. They have been so supportive. It’s amazing to me. It’s a good feeling to have.”

A key cog in the rebuilding efforts at Concordia, Lindeman helped the Bulldogs to a 20-win season in 2014 as the team’s top defensive specialist. Her production and leadership helped lay a foundation for the success of the 2015 team that is currently ranked 18th in the NAIA.

Lindeman keeps close tabs on her former teammates and was able to attend a game earlier this season.

“I’m so proud of them,” Lindemand said. “A lot of those players that maybe didn’t play as much last year are in key positions this year. It seems like they’re all playing together and having a great season. I talked with Scott when I was at a game. It’s just unbelievable how much confidence they have. When you have it in each other and yourself, there’s no stopping it.”

Confidence is a buzzword that Lindeman loves to use with her team. Mattera says Lindeman began to show attributes of a future coach during the 2014 season.

“I knew she’d do great with the technical side of the game, but she wasn’t someone up front that I would have thought would definitely be a coach,” Mattera said. “But as her senior year started going on, she started hanging out at the JV matches a little more and sitting on the bench and helping the JV coaches. She came to stuff in the spring even after her career was done to hang out and still be part of the game. That’s when it started clicking for me that she could have a pretty good future in this.”

While not sure what the future holds, Lindeman says she has had so much fun this season that she would be happy to continue a career as a volleyball coach. She’s one of several former and current Bulldogs taking on coaching duties. Alexa Hopping (North Platte Community College) and Angela (Bruhn) Hathaway (Lyons Decatur High School) are now head coaches and 2015 graduate Amanda Abbott sits right next to Mattera on the bench as graduate assistant coach. In addition, many current players coach club teams, in camps and/or give private lessons.

They would all do well to emulate Lindeman, who advises her team in her always positive fashion, “If you have confidence in yourself and teammates and have passion for the game, you will do great.”

The former back row star at Concordia has her girls believing to such a degree that they even fought back from a 20-9 deficit to win a set, 26-24, during a match with Riverside. Says Leech, “The girls have responded to her upbeat attitude, quick pace and caring nature. She understands that the real importance goes beyond the court, but the volleyball court is her vessel to further God’s kingdom in and with these girls.”