New Glenwood coach is sure to be a big hit
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Amber Sutherland never thought she’d be back in Glenwood Springs coaching the team she once led to a volleyball state semifinal as a player.
But sometimes life is crazy like that.
After spending the last five years in Boulder at the University of Colorado, the 2004 Glenwood Springs High School graduate is back with her alma mater as head volleyball coach.
“I never thought I’d be back here,” she said. “If it weren’t for injuries, I’d probably be overseas playing volleyball. But I love this valley. There are a lot of good people here. This is an opportunity to give back.”
Injuries have kept Sutherland from extending her playing career after graduating from CU, where the outside hitter was a kill machine, finishing her collegiate career with more than 1,000.
During her five-year tenure at CU, a stretch that included a redshirted 2007 campaign, Sutherland put up with a fair share of hurt.
Shoulder and ankle problems have translated into several surgeries, including one on her ankle in July that has her coaching in a walking boot.
When she does fully recover, Sutherland says she hasn’t ruled out a return to playing the sport she’s devoted her life to.
“I would really love to at this point,” she offered. “I’d like to try to go overseas, if not beach volleyball. I love playing. I definitely miss it.”
Until then, Sutherland seems content to transform the Demons into contenders. The squad had a rough go of it in 2008, posting a 4-15 record in the regular season before nearly making regionals with a surprise run at the Class 4A District 7 tournament.
“I think, you know, it’s [about] getting inside the girls’ heads and letting them know that they have the potential, that they have the talent,” Sutherland said. “They just have to have the confidence to know they can be a competitive team, to go out there and give everything they can and not just sit back and say, ‘Oh, we’re just Glenwood.’ They can actually take control of the future and make something of it.”
And Sutherland speaks those words having backed them up.
Playing alongside another Division I Glenwood product, Leah Hinkey (now at the University of Tennessee), Sutherland and the 2003 volleyball Demons went 29-1 and advanced all the way to the state semifinals before a loss to Sterling brought a previously perfect season to an end.
Sutherland’s players know their new coach’s history, many having charted the Demon legend’s high school and collegiate careers. They’re clearly eager to have her aboard.
“To have someone you looked up to all through middle school come be your coach, who’s coming right out of college and knowing all the drills to do and the level of intensity you need, that gives us a big step over a bunch of other schools,” senior Leah Mansfield said.
Whether that translates to wins remains to be seen. Regardless, Sutherland is happy to be back in red.
“It’s a great feeling that I can be back here,” she said, “to support them and get to where they want to be.”
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