Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Miller’s Linda DeBoer joins 700 win club

Tim Tushla
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Miller Rustlers head volleyball coach Linda DeBoer hit another career milestone this week. Four years after celebrating her 600th win, she’s now one of just four coaches in high school volleyball in the state to hit the 700 mark.

“It’s awesome. I mean, 33-years ago when I moved to Miller and volleyball was just beginning and I started as an assistant, I didn’t really have any goal set on what I thought my career would be or that this program would become my life’s work and that I would dedicate 31 years to being the head coach and building a program here,” explained DeBoer. “It’s remarkable when I look back at it.”

Along with winning 700 matches, she’s also helped lead the Rustlers to 12 state tournament appearances throughout her tenure. Her teams have also finished runner-up at the state tournament three times in her career.

DeBoer’s milestone victory came on Tuesday night in a five set road match against one of the top teams in Class B, the Northwestern Wildcats, who are coached by another volleyball legend in the state, Nora Groft. Going into the match, however, DeBoer kept her win total quiet from the rest of her team.

“I wanted my team to play well. We’ve been struggling with confidence and what a great matchup to have No. 3 Northwestern on our schedule. It’s not really a rivalry, because they’re Class B and we’re Class A, but it always seems to develop into great competition, so I wanted my kids to play well and focus on our game plan,” exclaimed DeBoer. “The 700 was just in the back of my mind. I didn’t tell the girls, because I didn’t want any extra pressure on them. I wanted them to do it for them and their own confidence, not so much my own.”

Afterwards, however, news quickly spread to her squad that the win was more than just what was left on the scoreboard.

“When I got on the bus, they started seeing some things on Facebook and Instagram that people had posted, and they they chewed me out for not letting them know that it was my 700th,” DeBoer chuckled. “It was fun, though, on the bus that we could just celebrate. We had some good laughs, and they were all very pleased and very happy for me.”

Jill Christensen is still the winningest all-time head volleyball coach in state history with 837 career wins. Anita Boeck, of Arlington, is currently second all-time with 731. Kari Jung, who currently coaches the volleyball powerhouse in Warner, hit her 700th win a couple weeks ago as well. DeBoer mentioned that even though she’s built her own legacy in Miller, she still looks up to the other greats.

“I don’t know if I can put myself in the same class as all of them, because I have looked up to them. A lot of those people like Kari [Jung] have been my role model,” said DeBoer. “We started coaching at the same time, and we’re so close together in proximity. Some of these people have just been true role models and legends in our sport and growing the sport in South Dakota. I can’t put myself in the same class as all of them, because I looked up to them for so long.”

For 31-years, DeBoer has been head coaching in Miller. Two years before that she was assistant coach. No matter what the future holds, whether she coaches another two years or ten, the sport of volleyball will always hold a special place in DeBoer’s heart. And a lot of that is because of how connected the sport has come with the community of Miller.

“When I first came here in 1991, it was a new program for girls, and so people didn’t know volleyball and didn’t understand volleyball. I hope that when people think of Miller Rustler volleyball, that my name will be synonymous with that today and going into the future,” she told. “Our town, our family have just embraced this sport over the years and have bought into this program, and I think that’s one of the main reasons why it’s as successful as it has been, and we’ve been to state as many time as we have and have had winning records.”

SDPB was there in August of 2019 when Linda DeBoer won her 600th match.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.