The message is a little different on other days of the week — be aggressive, compete, hit hard.

Those are the two roles for Apple, as a minister of God and as the first-year head coach of the Drayton/Valley-Edinburg co-op high school volleyball team.

On Sundays and during days throughout the week, Apple said, “I’m working on how I can tell people to go out and love one another and spread God’s love throughout the world.

“And then I go to practices and go to games and tell these girls to hit hard, not to hurt somebody but to take it to them and be aggressive all the time. It’s kind of a balance. But it’s fun and it lets me get out my competitive nature. And it lets me get involved in the community.”

Apple grew up in northwestern Ohio playing sports. At Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, she was a student coach for the school’s softball team.

The 28-year-old said she always hoped she could mix coaching in with her ministry. She was a spectator at local volleyball matches her first year here. But when Apple learned there was a volleyball coaching vacancy, she approached school administrators offering to help.

“They didn’t really have an applicant that would commit to it,” Apple said. “Originally I said I’d be interested in junior varsity or junior high. But kind of by default I got the head job. And I love volleyball.”

Apple took the coaching job with the understanding that her church comes first. If there is a scheduling conflict with, for instance, a funeral, or an emergency where Apple is needed, then assistant coach Brooklyn Johnson is in charge.

The 5-foot-4 Apple was a setter and back-row specialist when she played in high school. To prepare for coaching, she received some online coaching instructions and got accredited. “And I talked with (coach) Sherry Currie at Park River. She was a big help,” Apple said.

“I was a little overwhelmed at first. But I knew once I got into it, that I’d be OK.”

Beyond doing a crash course on coaching volleyball, Apple’s concern was how the athletes who are members of her parish would react to having their pastor as a coach. Apple wanted the volleyball players to understand that she was their minister first, their coach second, and that they were OK with that arrangement.

“At first, there maybe was a little distance with some of the kids, trying to find a balance of when I’m their coach and when I’m their pastor,” Apple said.

“But developing that relationship with the girls as a coach I think has helped me as a pastor. It gives me a chance to get into their lives in a different way, to see them through a different lens.”

Junior hitter Emilee Reilly, a member of Apple’s church, said there was no discomfort when Apple was named the Titans’ coach.

“I’d never seen the coaching side of her,” Reilly said. “So I wondered what she would be like as a coach. But I was excited. I’d gone with her on mission trips. I knew she had a competitive side. And we knew she was a good person.”

Even with a minister on the bench, the Titans have struggled. They took a 1-9 record into the weekend. But, from a won-loss standpoint, Apple has never asked for divine intervention.

“My prayers are always for me to do my best, for the girls to do their best, and for nobody to get hurt,” Apple said.



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