One look at Mendon High School’s volleyball record and you might never know that someone not named Trenary was at the helm.
After two years under Bill Trenary and 19 under Bill’s mother — Hall of Fame coach Kathy Trenary — the Hornets are still cracking the win column just about every night under first-year coach Chad Miller.
Miller, who came to the program after spending the better part of the last decade assisting his wife Katrina on the Vicksburg sidelines, not only has the Hornets in first place in the Southwest 10 at a perfect 7-0, but has helped lead Mendon to a 26-5-1 mark overall.
The Millers aren’t exactly strangers around the Mendon program however. The ties between Chad and Katrina and the Trenary family run deep, very deep. In fact, long before she met her husband, Katrina was a standout on all three of Kathy Trenary’s state champion teams at Mendon, helping take the Hornets to titles in 1998, 1999 and 2001.
A few years later, Kathy Trenary offered Katrina her first coaching job, bringing her on as an assistant after she stepped away from Mendon to head up the Vicksburg program in the mid-2000s. When Kathy returned to Mendon, Katrina took the reins in Vicksburg, and Chad Miller, who helped her out on the sidelines would occasionally lend some assistance to his good Bill Trenary after he took over for his mother at Mendon.
A trip to Lansing to get MHSAA certified after he was named the new head coach really put things into perspective for Miller, however.
“When I walked out of the classroom, the first thing I saw was her picture and Hall of Fame plaque,” Miller recalled. “It really put into perspective just what she did here. But it’s a driving force in what I do and why I coach. There’s definitely a weight that comes with that type of tradition, but I’m super excited to be here and to continue to build on it. I’d like to put another banner up there, I really would.”
And while he has some great young talent to work with, including a front line comprised of freshmen Anna Smith and sophomores Hannah Duchene and Hayley Kramer, as well as a speedy junior libero in Amaijah Bailey that will all be back next year, a step up to Class C from Class D will present its own set of challenges when the 2017 postseason rolls around.
After ripping off seven straight district titles, Mendon will now be matched up in district action with back-to-back state champion and top-ranked Bronson. Don’t think the Hornets will be backing down from that challenge however.
“I feel like every game is preparing us a little bit more,” said Bailey, a third-year starter at Mendon. “We have a lot of young people who are really good and who are stepping up and becoming leaders and I feel that our program has a chance to go really far and do really well. We’re really excited to have the chance to play Bronson and really can’t wait.”
“These girls want to win and they are in the habit of winning,” added Miller. “We’ve got really good pieces in all of the spots that you need to have good pieces in and if we play as a team and those pieces come together, we can compete with anyone in the state. As soon as we heard that we would be at Bronson in their district, it went on the calendar. It’s on the radar. And it’s something we are looking forward to for sure.”
While that habit of winning may have been something Miller was fortunate to inherit from the prior regime, he’s excited to put his own touch on the program as he tends to take a more free-flowing approach to coaching as opposed to the analytical approach that had been instilled over the past few decades.
“There’s no doubt that the Trenary’s did all the right things in developing players here, and having those players understanding their roles within the program,” he said. “I’ve been able to take a lot of what they’ve done, and add it to what I do. It’s really been a smooth transition between what Bill left in place and what I wanted to continue. I’ve got an unbelievable core to build around and for that I’m grateful.”