All her life, Konny Wolff has lived within walking distance of the Blue Earth Area tennis courts.
Tennis started out as entertainment for Wolff as a fifth-grader, but it has grown into a passion and dedication as an assistant coach for the Bucs' tennis programs. This fall, Wolff's dedication helped her earn Section 2A assistant coach of the year honors.
Along with Blue Earth Area head coach Terry Barnes, Wolff helped guide the girls tennis team to the 2012 Section 2A team semifinal. Their success, along with Wolff's coaching abilities, earned her the votes of other Section 2A coaches to win the award.
ACE ASSISTANT — Blue Earth Area’s Konny Wolff (right) and Buc tennis player and daughter Karleigh Wolff hold Konny’s Section 2A assistant girls tennis coach of the year award. Photo Courtesy of Konny Wolff
Wolff's years of playing tennis have helped give her a wealth of experience to help coach both the Bucs' girls and boys teams.
"I picked up a racket in fifth grade and the courts had a bank board, so I would go out there and hit for hours," said Wolff. "My best friend and I would play, we didn't have electronics and things, that was our entertainment."
Wolff played five years of varsity tennis, from 1974-1980, for esteemed head coach Harold Schroeder, with the team reaching state in each of those five years.
"We used to be one of the better teams in southern Minnesota and made it to the state tournament all the time," said Wolff.
In the final two years of Wolff's high school career, she finished fifth in the state in singles and, along with partner Kris Fering, finished second in doubles her senior year.
It was then that Wolff got the chance to play collegiate tennis, receiving a scholarship offer from then Mankato State University.
"They offered me a scholarship to play tennis for them, and with the practices from 6-8 in the morning, and 10-12 at night, it was just too much," said Wolff.
While in college, she took coaching classes, and when her oldest daughter Stephanie started playing tennis for Blue Earth Area, she followed the team closely. When her younger daughter Karleigh started playing varsity as a seventh-grader in 2009, she officially became an assistant.
"I always loved being around the kids," said Wolff. "This year, making it to the team section semifinal was a major accomplishment. I was so proud to see the way they improved this year."
Wolff believes her playing experience has helped her to be a better coach for her players.
"I am a very competitive person, I don't like to lose," said Wolff. "Players now aren't as focused on the winning, they go out and have fun, win or lose. As coaches, Terry and I are trying to make sure they have fun, but that they have a competitive edge as well."
Along with giving her players advice and critiques, Wolff knows as a good coach it takes more than criticism to help athletes improve.
"I try to keep things positive when I talk to them during matches. I tell them if things aren't working, to change up their play, but I always try to end it with a high five or something positive," said Wolff.
Wolff will be along the fences at Schroeder Courts for the foreseeable future, helping coach the BEA boys in the spring and the girls in the fall.
"We'd really like to be able to make a trip to the state tournament," said Wolff. "I think that if the girls put the time in during the offseason, we could do that."