Change in leadership for women’s volleyball

Corine Beimers—Staff Writer

In Dec. 2021, shortly after the conclusion of the season for the Dordt University Women’s Volleyball team, head coach Chad Hanson resigned after eleven years with the team. 

During his tenure, Hanson led the team to a number of successful seasons and postseason appearances. His teams held a record of 236-96, with seven NAIA National Tournament appearances. In 2015 and 2018, Hanson was named GPAC Coach of the Year, and in 2017, Hanson was recognized as the NAIA Coach of the Year. 

Through Hanson, the Dordt women’s volleyball program made itself a name in the NAIA, but it was always about more than that for the longtime coach. He reflected on his time as the women’s head coach as unexpected. He never knew what each season would bring: 

“There were different ebbs and flows. I had to ask, ‘What is success? What am I really after?’” 

Throughout the years, he attributed his success to the relationships that were formed within the program. He hoped the trophies, banners, and rankings wouldn’t influence relationships, but that those outcomes were a result of them.

“We’ve really achieved significant success during his tenure, but I think his greatest legacy will be that he really is able to keep Christian athletics in perspective,” Ross Douma, director of athletics, said. “Those who have played for him really understand the authentic person he is.”

The road wasn’t always a smooth one. In Hanson’s first season with the Defenders in 2011, they posted a losing record.

“I definitely came away from that season thinking, ‘We have a lot to figure out,’” Hanson said. “I just kept studying where these athletes were coming from and started to get a better pulse for what it takes, and in 2013 we made our first national tournament.” 

After a trip to the national tournament this past fall and making it to the national semifinal the year prior, Hanson’s resignation came a surprise to some the NAIA volleyball community. However, Hanson had been putting in double the amount of work compared to other head coaches in similar positions,

Seven years ago, Dordt added a men’s volleyball team. As the program started up, Hanson stepped into the role of head coach for the men’s team while he balanced his responsibilities with the women’s team at the same time. However, as the men’s program improved over the years, the demands intensified. 

“Stepping away from a successful women’s program has been hard and it wasn’t a flippant decision,” Hanson said. “It was months and months of pondering and discussions.”

After years of transitioning from the women’s winter season to the men’s spring season,  Hanson’s sole focus on the men’s program enabled him to be more present with the men’s team. The men’s program is currently in the middle of their season. They are 4-4 with a 4-1 record in conference play. 

Following Hanson’s resignation in December, the search for a new coach started immediately. On Feb. 11, Darci Wassenaar was announced as Dordt’s next women’s volleyball coach. 

Wassenaar graduated from Dordt College in 2002 and has since been teaching and coaching at Sioux Falls Christian High School. Throughout her 20 seasons of coaching, she has led the Chargers to a record of 579-109 and brought the team to several state championships. 

She has received a long list of coaching awards, including the AVCA Regional Coach of the Year in 2018 and the NCSAA Volleyball Co-National Coach of the Year for the 2010-2011 season. 

“What really brought coach Wassenaar to the forefront was the fact that her teams have been extremely successful on the court, but also the young people who have played for her speak volumes about the manner in which they matured as people under her direction,” Douma said. “We really look forward to Coach Wassenaar taking the baton from Coach Hanson and really putting her own thumbprint on this program and watching it flourish under her leadership.”  

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