(Portions contributed from UW-Stout Sports Information Assistant Julia Pettee)
MENOMONIE (October 8, 2019) - Sibling rivalry. It's a trend all too common in many families. It comes in many forms, from who is mom's favorite, to who is the smartest, to who is the better athlete.
It's a trend we see in all stages of athletics up to the highest of levels, like the three Watt brothers in the NFL, the Granlund brothers in the NHL, and the Harbaugh brothers as head coaches in the NFL.
It's even a trend at the NCAA Division III level where University of Dallas head coach Kelli Trautmann and University of Wisconsin-Stout head coach Mandy Trautmann will meet Saturday, October 12, at the Baden Invitiational hosted at Washington University (MO).
Mandy and her older sister Kelli went from being typical volleyball players growing up and went on to play collegiately, Kelli at UW-Whitewater, Mandy at UW-Oshkosh. The sisters took the next step and both are head coaches at NCAA Division III programs. Kelli is in her third year as the head coach at the University of Dallas and Mandy is in her second year leading the UW-Stout program.
Later this week, the sisters will come head to head when their own volleyball families each other for the first time in their coaching careers.
What started as Mandy looking for a yearly tournament for her team to travel to, turned into an unexpected twist when she saw her sister's team, the University of Dallas, possibly entered in the same tournament at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., that she had been intrigued by.
After calling Kelli and finding out Dallas too would be going, Mandy went ahead with the idea and on Saturday, Oct. 12, the two teams will play.
Kelli graduated from UW-Whitewater in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Education, Physical Education, Emphasis on Health, Human Performance and Recreation with an Athletic Coaching Minor. Kelli starred for both the volleyball and track & field teams, as she led the Warhawks to a regular season Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) title, pair of WIAC Tournament crowns, and advanced to four NCAA Tournaments during her career. She qualified for the 2010 and 2011 WIAC Championships (indoor and outdoor) in shot put and discus.
Kelli spent time coaching at Waterford Union High School in Wisconsin, Williams Woods University (NAIA Women's Basketball Championship Tournament Staff), Millsaps College, and Allegheny College. In 2017, UD gained Kelli to the coaching staff and is in the middle of her third season. Trautmann improved the team's win-loss record from 2017 and 2018 by 10 wins and gave the Crusaders their first Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Tournament victory since 2014.
Mandy, originally from Seymour in eastern Wisconsin near Green Bay, came to Stout for her master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, after graduating with a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology from UW-Oshkosh. But where the path would lead her in terms of coaching was nothing she predicted.
Coaching runs in the Trautmann family. Their mother Laura was their high school volleyball coach at Seymour High School and their father coached both high school track and basketball.
While never technically playing on the same team or against each other because of their four-year age difference, both Trautmann girls always were and remained competitive.
Whether it was in sand and backyard volleyball games with their families, who finished higher in their sports, or who played in different sports during college that the other didn't.
"We always just kind of poke the bear but we always know we love each other," Mandy laughed.
This friendly sister rivalry even goes beyond just Mandy and Kelli. When asked about how her parents felt, Mandy imagines her mother Laura, who is now a head volleyball coach for Fall River High School, just loves the concept of her girls taking after her and now facing off.
"It's very unique and it puts a smile on my face," Mandy said.
"Our parents are supportive, and I am sure they will want their favorite daughter Mandy to win (wink wink) but they won't tell me that" Kelli added.
Being a coach is a huge responsibility and only few can do it. Only few can be the person portraying a message to their athletes and have those athletes grasp that message. Only few can be liked as well as respected. The Trautmann sisters are exactly those people.
"I think coaching in general, it's just being that motivator and also just being a mentor to women," Mandy said. "In this day and age there's always the mental health issues, the self-confidence issues and it's one of those things I try to instill, that no matter what, have faith in yourself.
"Whether you win or lose, that's part of life. You're not always going to have good days and how are you going to respond to that."
"It's patience and being a better mentor to young female athletes. I am a passionate competitor and enjoy my job. I love winning and competition but as a coach there is a bigger meaning than just that," Kelli said.
Mandy and Kelli share many of the same values when it comes to coaching and their views of life, but the roads they may find themselves down in the future stray from each other.
Mandy has learned from her experience in going to grad school and then becoming the head volleyball coach that anything can happen in life.
Opportunities are all around and sometimes to have a plan is worse than not having a plan. Her main focus of as now is getting her degree but she's still excited for the future.
Kelli hopes to develop and establish the program at University of Dallas. To put time and dedication to the volleyball program and see what they can do. She strives to keep learning and being a better coach and a better mentor.
"I am very proud of Mandy and her accomplishments and what she has done for the Stout volleyball program. I am looking forward to the Wash U tournament," Kelli said.
"We get to coach the sport that we love. And especially now we get to coach against each other. It's fun because I think family is super important," Mandy said.
While the sisters have yet to truly feel the upcoming game sink in for them, as their focus is one game at a time, it's safe to say whatever the outcome is, no hard feelings will be left on the court. The experience will be exciting for them either way.