The last time Bishop Miege volleyball played without Gwenn Pike as its head coach, gas cost about 86 cents a gallon, and the top song of the year was Knack’s “My Sharona.”
From 1980 on, Pike was a staple of the program, leading the Stags to 21 Kansas state championships in two different classes. But on Sept. 1, Bishop Miege will step onto the court for the first time in 36 years without Pike leading them there.
Pike, who holds the most wins in state history (1,224-239) recently announced her retirement from Miege. Her success at the school was instant and sustained: She led the team to a championship in her first season, then piled 20 more on top of that. In 2006, she joined the National High School Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame.
But Pike – who also coaches for KC Power Volleyball, a club program she started in 1997 – grew weary of the year-round schedule of coaching at both the high school and club levels.
“Volleyball was a constant part of my mind and where my thoughts would go,” she said. “Even if I was at a family gathering, it would constantly consume me. I would go to bed and think about lineups. This just gives me some time where I’m not doing it 24/7.”
Although she is retiring from Miege, Pike will still coach for the Power Volleyball club. But leaving behind a program she’d spent 3 1/2 decades with was no easy choice.
“There were lots of tears before and after I made the decision,” she said. “You get emotionally tied to it, and the girls become your family.”
Something to ease the sadness, though, is the pride Pike feels about Miege’s newest head coach: Kathleen Ludwig, who played for Pike from 2004-08 and has served as her assistant since 2013.
“People say, ‘I wouldn’t want to fill your shoes,’ ” Pike said. “I don’t feel like anyone is there to fill my shoes. I think my time is done, so it’s exciting to see somebody else’s time begin, especially someone I know, and move in their own direction.”