Long before her daughters reached high school, Episcopal volleyball coach Beverly Russell set out on a mission.
Russell sought information about mothers coaching their daughters. The closest she got was an article about Jack Richards, who coached three daughters at a California high school.
“It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for,” Russell said. “This is something there’s no instructions for.
“It (article) says up front that coaching your child is a wonderful opportunity. The key is how you handle it.”
This fall, Russell has two daughters who are setters for the Knights. Bailey Russell is a senior, while younger sister Charlotte is a freshman.
The Russells are not alone. St. Joseph’s Academy coach Sivi Miller’s daughter Morgan is a junior setter/hitter. At Belaire High, junior Terriel Reado plays a variety of positions for her mother, Bengals coach Ella Reado.
“She (Terriel) started out at another school (Family Christian),” Reado said. “It was her decision whether or not to come play for me.
“I never said a whole lot, but when she told me she wanted to play for me ? well let’s just say I had a private celebration. This is her second year with me. I’m not easy to play for, but I think we’ve both enjoyed it.”
The notion of a son playing for a father is more common. A mother’s desire to coach her daughter runs just as deep.
All three coaches played a role in their children’s volleyball development along the way. The four daughters were fixtures on or near the sidelines long before they reached high school age.
“Morgan has been with me wherever I’ve coached since she was little,” Miller said. “She grew up watching and knowing what I expect. So has my other daughter (Melanie), who is in middle school.
“I think you do tend to be a little harder on your child because they know you so well you want them to get the point you’re making right now and that doesn’t always happen.”
Miller said she works to compartmentalize things on and off the court.
“When I’m coaching, every girl out there is mine, not just my daughter,” Miller said. “I’ve had people come up and ask me which one my daughter is because they don’t know.
“Morgan is team-oriented and handles things herself. After a game, when I talk to her, that’s Mom. I ask more about how she is feeling and not always so much about how we played.”
The boundaries and ground rules are somewhat different for Reado and Russell.
As Belaire climbed toward the playoffs last year, Reado said she challenged her daughter regularly, which led to one interesting exchange.
“I called Terriel over and told her she needed to stop getting so emotional,” Reado recalls. “She looked at me and said, ?Well, that’s what you do.’ I had to admit she was right.”
Each year, Russell prepares a series of slides for a her preseason meeting with parents. The fact that she has a daughter, or in this case, daughters, on the team is on a slide. She also has either EHS Athletic Director Myra Mansur and assistant coach Renee Price work with her daughters individually.
“You have to address it up front,” Russell said. “That way, it’s not something that’s just hanging out there for people to go with.”
The older daughters have played club volleyball together at one time or another.
The Millers moved to the Baton Rouge area following Hurricane Katrina, an event that transformed one dream.
“I always watched my mom coach and I knew I wanted to play for her,” Morgan Miller said. “Of course, I thought I’d be doing it at Cabrini (New Orleans).
“We wound up here and it’s been everything I thought it would be. My mom is harder on me sometimes, but I know that’s because she wants me to be a better player and person. I get that.”
Terriel Reado said she loves to talk volleyball with her mother.
“We’ll go out to eat after we play and we’ll talk about things I need to improve on,” she said. “We’ll come up with things to work on or to try the next time we play.”
Like the others, Bailey Russell believes her mother is harder on her at times than other players. The two have also clashed, including one instance last season in a huddle when she questioned her mother, incurring the wrath of a senior player.
“I know my mom wants us to do our best,” Bailey Russell said. “And she can be tough, harder on me than my sister and the other players.
“I think there’s some pressure for us to do well because she is the coach. There are good and bad things about it.”
All three coaches believe the bad never outweighs the good.
“I’m having the time of my life coaching my daughter,” said Reado, who played at Grambling in the 1980s.
Russell, the first full scholarship player at LSU in the mid-1970s, added, “I live for these three months we get to spend together and with the team. My daughters are not only playing, they’re playing where I went to school. That doesn’t happen every day.”
Miller, who played at Tulane in the 1980s, said she is too caught up in the season to fully appreciate the situation now. But she is prepared to relish the memories in the future.
All four daughters have aspirations to play on the college level. Bailey Russell is looking at small colleges. Morgan Miller (volleyball, softball) and Terriel Reado (volleyball, basketball) may have more than one sports option.
The mother-daughter experience has given Russell a goal of her own.
“Four years from now, I’d like to write a book about it,” Russell said. “I’ll have some other coaches to talk to.”