All in the family: Wagner volleyball has become a staple in the Tyler family
WAGNER—Volleyball is a way of life in the Tyler household.
Amy Tyler has spent the last 15 years guiding the Wagner High School volleyball program, winning two state championships—2008 and 2009—and amassing 410 career wins, with No. 400 coming in an Oct. 1 win over Tripp-Delmont/Armour.
Tyler has coached some great teams and great players during her career, but this team has a special twist. Tyler has coached her oldest daughter, Faith, for four years, but this season, eighth-grader Lizzie Tyler has emerged as one of Wagner's key players, as well.
Faith and Lizzie spent their childhood years around the program, serving as managers and attending practices. Now they are two of the key pieces for a Red Raider team that sits at 26-4 entering tonight's Region 5A quarterfinal match against Bon Homme.
"As any coaching parent, (the kids) are in the gym all the time and they see the passion that you have for the game," Amy Tyler said. "It just kind of becomes inherent—not all the time, but I knew the girls would probably play."
Faith has been a varsity player all four years of her high school career, accumulating 1,165 digs and 823 kills.
While the Tyler family excelled on the court, making the transition from mother-daughter to player-coach and vice versa was not always an easy switch in the beginning.
"I made a lot of mistakes with Faith in trying to balance being a mom and being a coach," coach Tyler said. "I've really learned a lot that it's more important to be a mom. It's been kind of a tough journey learning all of that, but I feel now we have a really good balance of when I'm supposed to play what role."
Toward the end of last season, Lizzie was added to the mix for the playoff run. This year, she has been a critical member of the team as the starting setter.
The youngest Tyler has handed out 443 assists, with just 26 errors in 1,203 ball handling attempts. The Tyler sisters have had to make an adjustment to their relationship, particularly being directly connected on the court as a setter and an outside hitter.
"We're kind of hard on each other," Lizzie said. "She tells me where my sets need to be and if they're not where she wants them to be, she'll tell me. ... I just take that and try to do better next time."
The clock is now ticking down on the Tyler trio as the postseason signals the waning moments of the time to spend together on the volleyball court, with Faith being set to follow in her mother's footsteps by playing at Dakota Wesleyan University next fall.
Wagner has come up just shy of reaching the state tournament the last three seasons, and thanks to a lineup that also includes Abby Brunsing, Kayli Kocer and Maesa Dvorak, the Red Raiders have the pieces to finally break through. If it happens, the Tyler family will finally be able to share the big stage as a family and it would be unlikely volleyball will stop dominating the chatter at the dinner table.
"My brother gets annoyed, especially the last few weeks when seed points have been huge," Faith said. "We talk about stats, other team's film—it's a common occurrence in our house."