Upon hearing he had been named the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Coach of the Year, Lafayette volleyball coach Zach Young’s first instinct was the award was for more than just him.
For Young, the laurel should be shared with many others.
“This is an incredible honor, but I have the best coaches to work with in Steve Burkard, Sue Tillery, and Kim Aschoff, players and parents that most coaches would die to work with, and without a doubt the best supporter at home in my wife Jill along with our four kids,” Young said. “All of their names should also be associated with this.
“What a great honor for our program, school, and recognition of volleyball in the St. Louis area. Those are all things I’m very proud to be associated with.”
Young has been the girls volleyball coach at Lafayette High for the last five years.
He received the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Coach of the Year in a vote of readers of USA TODAY High School Sports.
Young didn’t know about the online vote. He learned about it when he saw it shared through social media.
His reaction was one of awe.
“A little bit of shock, but then when I heard about all of the people who had shared and voted — family members, former and current players and families, other coaches in the area, that feeling turned to pride in our program and reputation we’ve worked hard to achieve at Lafayette,” Young said. “We are so blessed.”
Young was named the ALL-USA Girls Volleyball Coach of the Year after he led the Lancers to its fifth consecutive state title in his five seasons as coach. Overall, the program set a Missouri state record with its sixth consecutive title, breaking the record that it shared with shared with Incarnate Word Academy, which won five titles from 1983 to 1987.
Lafayette (33-6-1) lost only once in its final 24 matches, a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Francis Howell on Oct. 13.
Just 16 days later, the Lancers got another shot at Howell in the Class 4 state final. Lafayette dropped the first set of the best-of-three match and trailed 23-20 in the second set before rallying for a 20-25, 27-25, 25-21 victory.
Young described what the Lancers did after losing a little bit early and then winning 23 of last 24 matches to win another state title in one word: “Perseverance.”
That led to Young earning this accolade.
However, Young does not take all the credit.
“My name may end up on some awards, but anyone who knows our program knows that being the head coach at Lafayette is not a one-person job,” Young said. “Steve Burkard, Sue Tillery, and Kim Aschoff do so many things for our program and are so invested that any award I am lucky enough to get should also have their name on it as well.”
Young finished with nearly 40 percent of the vote among all the coaches who were named ALL-USA Coach of the Year in their respective sports during the 2016-17 academic year.
Former NHLer Trent Klatt, who recently resigned as the boys hockey coach at Grand Rapids (Minn.), finished second with nearly 20 percent of the vote. Kevin Kelley, the trailblazing football coach at Pulaski Academy in Arkansas, was third with 10 percent.
Last year was more than just volleyball for Young. Away from the court, Young and wife Jill welcomed triplets – David, Matthew and Hope – last Sept. 5 to join older sister Leah, 3.
“Leah is the best big sister to our triplets Matthew, Daniel, and Hope,” Young said. “She loves to play with them and do gymnastic routines in our living room having them as her own private audience. They’re 11 months now and though life is challenging, it’s also very full and exciting.”
Practice for the 2017 campaign has begun.
Lafayette opens the season with its tradition match against powerful St. Joseph’s Academy. The Lancers will entertain the Angels at Aug. 28.
Young noted he and his staff are looking forward to getting started.
“We are really excited about the group we’ve got this year and the potential for talent and leadership to emerge,” Young said.