Evan Sanders couldn’t be more enthused about coming home.
The former volleyball star at Centaurus played at Colorado State when new Colorado Buffaloes coach Jesse Mahoney was an assistant with the Rams, and she also logged time in the Pac-12 Conference after spending her senior year at Washington.
The daughter of former longtime Centaurus coach Bev Sanders, Evan Sanders arrives at CU after a professional career in Europe and one season as a volunteer assistant at Texas.
Q: Just how excited are you to be coming home to this sort of job?
Sanders: I honestly could not have dreamt up a better coaching gig for myself, let alone in my very first year as a true assistant coach. I feel extremely fortunate. The staff is great. CU is the school I kind of grew up watching when I first got into volleyball. To now be able to have a direct impact on that program is pretty wild.
Q: Were you recruited by CU out of high school?
Sanders: I was offered by the University of Colorado. My recruiting experience was a little bit funky just because I was being recruited at two different positions. The University of Colorado wanted me as a hitter, which is what I was in high school. Some of the bigger schools at that time wanted me as a setter. So it was me making that decision kind of based off where I wanted my playing career to go, what position I wanted to play. Jesse Mahoney was huge in my decision to go to Colorado State because I really valued him as a coach. At that time in my life it was a perfect fit.
Q: Having that background with coach Mahoney, what is he going to bring to the CU program?
Sanders: Boulder is where he grew up, he graduated from CU. Him and I both have that CSU experience where we really had an amazing fan base. Our community support every year … it’s something we were exposed to and was something that as an athlete I genuinely appreciated. It’s something that we’re striving for at the University of Colorado. I think he’ll be great at drawing in a good crowd and having our community support our sport.
Q: Your mom spent almost 20 years at Centaurus. Your brother just spent two seasons as a graduate assistant with the Utah State football team. Was coaching always on your radar?
Sanders: Nope. It was nowhere near my radar. Growing up I had so many coaches, my mom included, who would always tell me, “You would make a great coach.” For whatever reason, it was just not an interest of mine. I loved the sport of volleyball, but I only knew the playing side of it. Playing professionally for a couple of years was an amazing experience and I’m glad I did it. I always thought I was going to be a teacher, which my mom was also a teacher, so I was more following in her footsteps in that career path than coaching. When I got back from overseas I started working with some kids, but I started to really miss the sport.
I got the opportunity at the University of Texas. They approached me and said I could play with the players at practice as well as see what the coaching world was like. I absolutely fell in love with it, and here I am.
Q: What did you experience while playing overseas that you are most grateful for?
Sanders: Being overseas and getting paid to play a sport I love, obviously that’s something a lot of athletes dream about. It’s a very humbling experience and really opens your eyes to how spoiled you can be. My personal favorite memory — and I love the volleyball and the competition — but I loved any opportunity I had to venture around Europe. One example was going to Athens and seeing the old Olympic stadium. But my ultimate favorite was going to Rome for Christmas. My mom actually came over and we were able to go to Rome for the holidays.
Q: So how excited is your mom to have you not only home, but coaching CU?
Sanders: She is beyond thrilled. The night that I told her she said she was concerned the neighbors would be worried what’s going on, because she was screaming at the top of her lungs because she was so excited. I have an amazing family and their support has meant the world to me. She was in Austin a lot last season becoming a Longhorns fan, so she could not be more excited for the drive to be just down the road.