After bringing one of the area’s most struggling high school volleyball programs to respectability during a three-year coaching run at Dupo, Brooke Kloess’ expectation levels will be much higher as the new varsity coach at Freeburg.
Kloess, who spent the past three seasons as the girls varsity volleyball coach at Dupo, was hired recently at Freeburg. She also will teach physical education and health.
Freeburg won back-to-back state titles as recently as 2008 and 2009 and owns four state championships overall. The Midgets have made eight state tournament trips.
“There are very high expectations with volleyball here,” Freeburg Principal Greg Frerking said. “That’s one of the sports that we’re kind of known for, and that’s an expectation we put on ourselves. She’s pretty eager to get going and we’re excited about the prospects of her being here for a long time.”
Kloess, 25, was a volleyball and softball standout at Red Bud High School who also played softball at McKendree University. She also spent three years coaching volleyball at Red Bud, including one as head coach, and four years helping coach the boys volleyball programs at O’Fallon and Belleville East.
“Freeburg was like my dream job and I was always hoping that something would come open there,” said Kloess, who already has met with the players and has a summer program in place. “I see a lot of potential, especially since we’re going to be a senior-led team next year. A lot of them do play club (volleyball), so they’re playing on their own and they’ve been playing for the past six or seven months. That will help coming into the high school season.”
Freeburg won back-to-back state titles in 2008 and 2009 under former coach Lesa Bolt, who was dismissed from her coaching position last September. The Midgets were 3-14 at the time and assistant coach Julie Klazynski finished out the season as head coach, with Freeburg compiling a 9-23 overall record.
Frerking said Kloess’ experience, which includes coaching at the high school level as well as with the Southwest Illinois Club Volleyball program, made her a more attractive coaching candidate,.
“She’s somebody that is very much a go-getter,” Frerking said. “I know she’s been on the club scene for a long time and she’s seen a lot of very good competition. She knows where she needs to take our girls to get them to be one of the top programs in the area again.”
Kloess enjoyed her time at Dupo, where she had to teach the sport at a basic fundamental level and quickly found the girls to be quick learners. The Tigers were 10-17-1 last season and beat conference rival Lebanon for the first time in 14 years, a definite step up.
Dupo has only one regional or district title in the history of its volleyball program and that came back in 1978.
“I just tried to build the program and to get them competitive and playing good volleyball,” Kloess said. “It was very challenging to come into a program that hadn’t had much success in previous years. I’m a very competitive person, so for me it was something for me to step into to make myself work hard and to get these girls ready and competitive.
“I wanted to make a name for Dupo volleyball. I felt like they bought into the program; I’m a tough coach and I feel like they responded to that.”
Kloess lives in Millstadt with husband Dan Kloess, a Belleville East football assistant who also is serving as the Lancers’ interim boys varsity volleyball coach.