In 1988, Principal Karen Russ asked Ron Kordes how long he thought he would coach volleyball at Assumption. He told her he would go one year at a time, and if he looked forward to it he would continue on.
Roll the clock 28 years later – with 19 of those years being a State Champion – and now Coach Kordes gets a laugh out of this wryly asked question by some of his retired friends. Even in year 28, he was glad to say on July 15 when fall sports were able to start up again; he was still looking forward to it.
“I am happy today that feeling is still there. I think being a competitive individual – and since I can’t play anything anymore except golf and I am playing that pretty badly right now – it allows me to stay in a competitive atmosphere. It is the quality of the young women I get to work with and is a teaching experience. For some it may be a life changing experience. I find that so satisfying and those are the things that keep me doing it.”
Coach Kordes legacy began in his early years coaching, at a time when he would say he was very aggressive and demanding as a coach. But as life is filled with swift transitions, he soon found out he had to be flexible and change with the times as a coach. Current players may say he is still aggressive and demanding, but former players have said he’s “mellowed down.”
“You’re dealing with different types of kids each year, and how society impacts these young girls today,” he adds. “I think today our society produces a little bit more entitlement than it used to do. So I think those are the things as a coach that you have to adjust to. We still demand the discipline, the effort and the hard work that we always have, but we may just go about it a little different than we have before.”
Adjusting to change has still produced success in the Assumption program. Coach Kordes’ most recent state title out of the 19 was last season, and that season end destination as state champion remains the same for this year.
As additional room gets made on the trophy shelf for new championship hardware, it’s a testament to the program’s success, but also brings along with it some added challenges. Girls who come into the Rockets’ program can feel the magnitude of its history, and even as freshman, they’re expected to perform at a championship level.
“We’ve been successful over the years and we talk about the challenges we face in our program,” Kordes adds. “There are a lot of teams out there and we can expect to see their best whenever we line up against them. They are not going to take anything for granted and they want to beat you. So therefore, we have to be able to match their intensity and have ourselves focused mentally and be ready to compete.”
Kordes says he has been amazed over the years how 15-, 16- and 17-year-old girls have handled the pressure to play in such a prestigious program. Each senior class carries the weight a bit heavier than others as they work to go out as state champions.
It exemplifies the character that has been cultivated in each and every player Kordes has had the chance to coach.
“I’ve always been impressed since I first started coaching girls,” he adds. “Guys would ask me how I could stand coaching girls, and I would tell them I am fortunate to work with some of the young women I work with, who make so many sacrifices and work as hard as they do and play as hard as they play. I have enjoyed it tremendously. Just to be a part of their lives and helping them grow into adulthood by teaching them things in the gym that they will be using in their life as they grow older.”
Looking for new and better ways to teach has been the number lesson he’s learned. He says, “When you think what you’ve done is the best way and only way, then I think you start to become a dinosaur and other people can start passing you up.”
Ron Kordes has been able to stay ahead of the competition for quite some time and has become one of the most historic high school volleyball coaches in the state of Kentucky and in the nation. And for him, stopping while he’s ahead doesn’t seem to be an option. VT