When Greg Seidner submitted his resignation recently it was a bittersweet moment for the communities that comprise Western Wayne Schools. It will be a great loss to the program, but Seidner, who is now a grandfather, will be able to spend more time with his family. He has earned that right.
Seidner started teaching at Lincoln during the fall of 1988 and began his coaching career the following year. Seidner began coaching volleyball shortly after he and his wife Colleen were married, on June 24, 1989. Upon returning from their honeymoon, he was offered the job as head volleyball coach at Lincoln High School. His decision to accept the offer changed the Seidner household for more than 30 years.
Seidner had a basic knowledge of the sport from classes he took as a student at Ball State taught by the legendary Don Shondell (HOF). He also played on intermural teams at BSU, but he had never been a coach before. He read books, did research and attended clinics to better understand his role, but early on he mostly learned as he went. As Seidner says, “I wish I knew then what I know now.”
Seidner’s path to the position of head volleyball coach was most unusual.
In his first year teaching at Lincoln, Seidner attended a volleyball match between members of the Spanish Club and the French Club. He went from being a spectator to being a participant.
“I was invited to play for the Spanish club team,” Seidner said with a laugh. “They determined that I was eligible to play because I took Spanish in high school. The Lincoln coach at the time (Debbie Cummings) was retiring that year. I must have played well because after the match a player asked me if I would consider coaching. I am sure she did not have the authority to hire me, but she did recommend me to the athletic director. The day my wife Colleen and I returned from our honeymoon the next year the AD called and offered me the job. After I accepted, Colleen said, ‘Well, that was the end of the honeymoon.’”
Seidner learned on the fly. He attended clinics and attended practices of other coaches who were successful. He found those coaches to be very supportive and generous with their time.
As it turned out Seidner found early success. In his second year at the helm the Lady Eagles won the Wayne County Championship. In his third year, the Lady Eagles won the first sectional in Lincoln school history.
Lincoln started their volleyball program during the 1972 school year. From 1972 to the recently completed season, the program accumulated 764 wins. Seidner coached 566 of those wins. During his tenure Lincoln won sectional championships in 1991, 1996, 2006 and 2022. They also won Wayne County titles in 1990, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2013. They were crowned Tri-Eastern Conference champions in 1996, 2001, 2007 and 2013.
His 1996 TEC championship team once won 18 straight matches. His 2001 TEC championship team won a school record 27 matches.
Seidner has had many outstanding players, too many to list. Seidner also coached four players (Emily Cox, Haley Hall, Kristen Meal and Jaymee Schambers) who were named to the Indiana All-Star team.
Seidner jokingly referred to himself as the king of sectional runners-up. “I had so many teams that were outstanding, ” Seidner said. “During the era when Union County was so strong, we could not get by them, and we were state ranked. Then Hagerstown had a run of teams we lost to in sectional play, once again we were state ranked. We were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Seidner’s teams did win four sectionals, most recently in 2022.
Like most successful coaches, Seidner is competitive, but he came to realize over the course of his coaching career that while winning is important, developing athletes into good citizens and helping them prepare for life is far more important. Seidner has coached many outstanding players, but he is most proud of the fact that his players have always maintained high academic achievement. He’s always expected academic excellence, and his players have responded. Seidner also saw teaching life lessons to his players as the most important part of his job. He sees character as a value. He always saw his teams as a family.
Seidner stepped away for three years to address some health issues and support his daughter Michelle in her activities before returning to coach the Lady Eagles in 2013.
Michelle is now a college professor in North Carolina. His other daughter Kristen has two young children, a son, Liam, and an infant daughter, Olyncia. Grandpa and Grandma Seidner can be more involved in their grandchildren’s life. “I had to miss some of Liam’s baseball games because of my coaching commitment this year,” Seidner said. “I would like to be there for my grandchildren.’’
Seidner will continue to teach at Lincoln. There will be one more change in the Seidner family plans going ahead. “Colleen has always wanted to attend her family reunion in Michigan,” Seidner said. “But it has always conflicted with the Cowan Volleyball Invitational weekend. After 33 years, I think it is time to take her.”
Lincoln athletic director Rodney Klein spoke for many in describing what Seidner has done for the Lincoln volleyball program. “Greg Seidner is just an exceptional man,” Klein said. “He has great integrity and tremendous leadership skills. He is very supportive of not only his volleyball players but every student at Lincoln High School. He worked so hard at his craft. People may not realize that when he became our varsity volleyball coach, he had never coached a volleyball game at any level. He worked from day one to be the best coach he could be for his players. We all hate to see him retire, but we understand his decision and wish him well.”
A version of this article appeared in the November 22 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.