A volleyball coach who once spent four years preparing teams to defeat Center Grove will now be leading the Trojans.
Chris Due, who coached at Franklin from 2010-13, returns to Johnson County to become Center Grove’s third head coach in four years.
The 39-year-old was approved as the Trojans’ coach at a school board meeting Thursday evening. Due replaces Maggie Harbison, who resigned after leading the Trojans to a 57-16 record over the past two seasons.
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Due, 39, a lay coach who resides in Avon with his wife and two young children, is anticipating the first Center Grove-Franklin match on Aug. 30 on the Grizzlies’ court.
The teams could meet as many as four times this season.
“I think when I walk into that Franklin gym, it’s going to feel really awkward,” Due said, smiling.
A shorter drive to and from work and the desire to coach volleyball at a small private school were Due’s main reasons for leaving Franklin.
“It was very hard leaving Franklin,” Due said. “I had those relationships with the players. You grow those bonds and the players look up to you. It’s kind of like seeing a fatherly figure moving away.”
Due has been successful in his two jobs coaching high school teams.
After going 11-19 his first season at Franklin, Due’s squads began cranking out 20-plus victories each fall. The Grizzly Cubs won back-to-back county tournaments in 2012-13.
He left to take the job at Ritter, and the 2014 Raiders made it to the title game of the Class 2A semistate at Forest Park before losing to eventual state champion Providence.
Due spent two seasons with the Raiders before stepping away to focus on his duties as assistant club director at Capitol Sports Center in Plainfield. Eventually, he began to miss the various aspects of high school volleyball.
“I’ve been out two years now, and it was mainly because of family,” Due said. “We have a little boy (Aiden), and he’s 20 months old now. When I resigned from high school, my wife was seven months pregnant with him, so I decided to focus more on family and helping out.
“When I heard the Center Grove job opened up, it’s a school I’ve always wanted to be at. It’s just the high expectations they have for athletics. They expect every sports team to compete for a state title. I feel I’m very confident in my abilities and I love competing against the best.”
Due is the program’s third head coach since Deb McClurg stepped down following the 2011 season, her 18th with the Trojans. Athletics director Jon Zwitt isn’t worried that Center Grove’s volleyball reputation — five sectional titles in the past six years and a regional championship in 2015 — will take a step back.
“We were looking for someone who could continue the excellent traditions of our volleyball program,” Zwitt said. “Chris not only fit that mold, but his success at the high school level and at the club level have been impressive.”
Junior setter Madison Hammill is the key returnee from last season’s 31-6 squad that lost to Providence in the final of the 4A Seymour Regional. Others back include seniors Graci Gasper and Santina Schembra and juniors Ashley Eck, Anna Line and Calista Stafford.
“I want our people to look at our program and see how hard our kids work,” Due said. “I want the players to be proud to put that Center Grove jersey on and wear it with a lot of pride.”
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Born: Schaumburg, Illinois
Lives in: Avon
Job: Assistant club director at Capitol Sports Center in Plainfield
High school: Schaumburg (1997)
Family: Wife Kelly; daughter Jordan, 7; son Aiden, 1