Dakota Wesleyan University's Sara Herman juggles volleyball, student teaching

DWU defensive specialist teaches math in Chamberlain

Dakota Wesleyan University senior Sara Herman watches as teammate Mariah Gloe digs out a serve during practice on Tuesday at the Christen Athletic Center. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

Sara Herman is a teacher by day and a volleyball player by night.

Herman, a Dakota Wesleyan University senior volleyball player, is splitting her time student teaching and playing for the Tigers this spring. The math education major student teaches at Chamberlain High School and makes it back for two to three DWU practices a week.

“I get done with school, pack up, go to practice, come home and then I teach the next day, typically is how it works,” said Herman, describing her daily schedule. “I have been full-time teaching for a while now. So I try to plan as much as I can in advance. So I can go to volleyball and not be stressed at night when I get back home.”

The Lyman High School graduate is currently living at home in Reliance, which is 20 miles west of Chamberlain. She’ll drive the distance for school, another 70 miles to Mitchell for practice and 85 miles back to Reliance afterward.

Chamberlain dismisses school at 3:20 p.m. and DWU coach Lindsay Wilber has moved two practices a week to 4:30 p.m. to allow Herman to make it.


“She teaches all day and then hops in the car, and then pretty much shows up to practice right after we are already done warming up and hops in there,” Wilber said. “Half the time, I don’t even notice because she hops in there and starts practicing. That’s kind of what her typical day looks like. It’s been a big commitment on her part.”

Herman initially considered student teaching in Mitchell. But wanted to teach closer to home and wanted to get her foot in the door in the Chamberlain School District.

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She started student teaching in January and tried to make it back for at least one open gym a week in Mitchell. The Tigers started practice in the middle of February.

Herman admits she was initially overwhelmed juggling both responsibilities.

“I was basically a first-time teacher and having to plan things for the first time,” said Herman, who is a defensive specialist with 1,358 career digs. “Everything in the teaching world was new to me. Then having to travel back and forth for volleyball. It seemed like a lot.”

She’s gotten accustomed to her teaching responsibilities and is following in her father’s footsteps. Her father, Keith Herman, is a math teacher in the Lyman School District.

“I have a lot of family members that teach,” Sara Herman said. “I think I was just drawn to that naturally and I liked math. It was something I was good at. So I figured that’s what I would try.”


The Tigers will miss her ability to crunch numbers next season.

“She’s a math wiz,” Wilber said. “We don’t ever have to keep score in practice because Sara is a numbers freak. Sara knows the score in her head the whole entire time. I don’t know what we are going to do next year when she’s gone.”

DWU volleyball picks up once again for spring postseason play The Tigers are coming off a strong regular-season performance, qualifying for the GPAC tournament for the first time in school history.

She has a job lined up next fall at Chamberlain and will also consider coaching volleyball. Currently, the Tigers will continue their banner season. They went 12-8 overall and 8-8 in the ultra-competitive Great Plains Athletic Conference, which regularly features a host of nationally-ranked teams.

The Tigers will play at Concordia University at 3 p.m. today in Seward, Nebraska. It is DWU’s first appearance in the GPAC tournament and it could possibly advance to nationals for the first time since 1990.

It’s another reason why Herman opted to balance teaching and playing volleyball this spring.

“I think it was a fun year for everybody and I think it shows the volleyball program is headed in the right direction, as well,” Herman said.

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