tampabay.com

Former foe now in charge

Pinellas Park grad Tracy Sedely prepares for her next test: being the coach at tradition-rich Clearwater.

By BOB PUTNAM
Published August 23, 2005


For years, Clearwater was Tracy Sedely's volleyball albatross.

From 1993-95, the Tornadoes routinely knocked Sedely and her Pinellas Park teammates out of the race for the district title.

Unable to beat her archnemesis on a consistent basis, Sedely decided to join them.

Tracy Sedely, who was known as Tracy Schroeder until her marriage, was named coach of the Clearwater volleyball program.

"I did try to beat (the Tornadoes) when I played," said Sedely, who was the 1995 Times all-county player of the year. "We usually lost, but I always admired that program. It had the tradition and has pretty much been the volleyball power in the area for some time."

Sedely, 27, takes over for Lynn Hallmark, who stepped down after coaching the program for five seasons. When she left, Hallmark said she expected several qualified candidates to jump at the chance to lead a bonafide state contender.

Among those who applied were Northeast coach Sean O'Flannery and former Clearwater and Florida State standout Alex Sevillano.

But Sedely, who has been the coach at Countryside (1998) and an assistant at St. Petersburg College ('99), distinguished herself with her ability to relate to players.

"I kept tabs on her as a player and coach," said Steve Price, Clearwater's assistant principal for athletics. "I did my homework and always liked the way she handled kids. I just felt like she was the best fit."

Sedely has a difficult position as coach of a team that has been a consistent state contender. Her every move will be dissected by loyal followers not quite sure how to view the person taking over for their revered program.

It is not good enough to win matches. Sedely also has to win over skeptical parents and fans.

Besides Hallmark, the Tornadoes also said goodbye to setter and player of the year Sloane Baby, who transferred to Berkeley Prep. Hallmark said in January her decision and Baby's were unrelated, though both were made within a week of each other.

"We're starting the year clean," Sedely said. "We're not going to dwell or discuss what happened before. I'm excited about the things we can do this year."

Sedely inherits a team that is not much different knows from the one Hallmark left. Kelsey Salava, Eileen Case and Kristin Fisher are just some of the notables who return.

What Sedely also is left with is a grand tradition, plenty of questions, and some big shoes to fill.

"I'm ready for the challenge," she said.