Pinecrest Academy volleyball coach Sandy Seiferth instructs her team from a stack of mats on the opposing side of the net, with her squad in formation on the other. In a bright pink shirt, she’s easily distinguished, along with her exclamatory curly hair.
In uniform, and in formation, another curly head of hair paces back and forth, chasing balls, finishing kills and joking with teammates. Sprinkled in are moments of instruction, where coach Seiferth emphatically delivers critique.
“Adeline,” Seiferth says. “That’s your play.”
A brief head nod, and practice ensues.
Indistinguishable by their locks, it’s pretty clear to spectators that Adeline, a junior outside hitter for the Lady Paladins, shares blood with her head coach. Sandy, her mother, has coached her since her earliest days of playing volleyball in middle school.
What started off as a balancing act turned into a dynamic duo, by default. The evolution of Adeline from a short, care-free kid to a high caliber volleyball player required the careful attention and grace of her mother, who balanced parenting and coaching—as well as coaching against Adeline.
“On the 14s club team I was the head coach of the twos and Adeline played on the ones,” Sandy said. “We so actually went against each other in some matches. I’d be coaching and want to cheer for a kill from Adeline and have to hold back and get my girls focused, so that was a unique experience.
“I’d get in huddles and tell the girls, ‘Alright, I know what Adeline likes to do here,’ and things like that.”
Adeline played soccer, was a gymnast and even admitted to being a huge proponent of a game she plays at home, “wall ball,” by hitting a volleyball against a garage door for hours on end. Her mother described her as a willing athlete, but someone who would choose her own path, sports or no sports.
Adeline chose volleyball, anyway.
“My mom coached the other middle schoolers when I was younger and I just fell in love with the sport,” Adeline said. “Just the team aspect of having to be so close, I really enjoy it.”
It’s the shared personality traits between Adeline and her mother that have shone through: Adeline says her outgoing personality, social skills and ability to stay happy come from her coach. Those traits have helped make her a leader on the court with the Lady Paladins, who are in the midst of a 16-14 season despite dealing with major injuries to three projected starters and the preseason resignation of then-head coach Meg Bohn.
The injuries have forced Adeline to take on a leadership role. Despite being soft-spoken, the 5-foot-10 hitter keeps her team relaxed and confident.
Adeline has grown her game by playing with the ProLink Atlanta club teams, which her mother also has coached in as her head coach and her opponent. She began playing in middle school as a back row player before hitting a major growth spurt.
This season, she’s inflated her numbers dramatically, with 219 kills, a 49.2 percent kill percentage and a .342 hitting percentage. She also had 42 aces, 15 blocks and 114 digs. Needless to say, she’s become an all-around force for the Lady Paladins.
Still, the challenge of being a big time player on a team facing adversity has put Sandy in a spot to know when to coach and when to lay off.
“I think it’s a challenge because you have to distinct between Mom and coach, and it can get tricky sometimes,” Adeline said. “Overall it’s a blessing because she’s very experienced in what she does. When I first started playing it was fun. She’s such an awesome coach and I was so inspired to play volleyball. I don’t notice it as much.”
“Often times she doesn’t want to hear coach,” Sandy said. “She wants me to just be mom, and be mentally done with the court for a while. She’ll want to go home, eat, do homework, which is what you want as a parent, and I’ll want to keep coaching her. It’s a balancing act.”