It's become the family business.

In the mid-1990s, Gretchen Gates was the dominant girls' cross country coach at Spring Grove High School.

Sarah and Rachel Gates grew up among this success, so it's no surprise the two have decided to do some coaching as well.

Sarah and Rachel will serve as the new head and assistant coaches, respectively, of the New Oxford High girls' volleyball program this fall.

"It's funny because we've grown up in a gym," Sarah Gates said. "My mom coached for Spring Grove for all of those years and then came over and coached for Delone (Catholic)."

Sarah Gates, who has retained use of her maiden name after her marriage, added, "It was a tough decision for me because I have three little kids, but then I looked to my mom. She raised us in a gym and we ended up embracing it and loving it.

"So I thought, 'Hey, that's not a bad way to grow up.' If I have to take my kids along with me, so be it."

While Gretchen Gates dealt with outdoor sports at Spring Grove and Delone Catholic, volleyball has been the Gates sisters' love for a long time.

Sarah Gates enjoyed an NCAA Division I career at Radford after competing at Delone. Her younger sister, Rachel, followed up her career with Delone at another Division I school, Appalachian State.

Sarah eventually became a health and physical education teacher at New Oxford, while Rachel recently completed law school and works at a Hanover law firm.


"I figured she needed something to do with her free time now that she's done with school," said Sarah, flashing a big smile at her younger sister. "Like, 'Come coach with me.'"

In fact, the two's careers were separated by age just enough that they never played together at Delone, so the idea of coaching together is new.

The two have already made their mark even though Sarah was hired as head coach in May. Helped by her husband, who owns an exercise facility in Hanover, she developed an offseason regimen for the Colonials.

"We had good turnouts for our open gyms, so I got to know the girls a little bit because we came in here (to the New Oxford High gymnasium) for our first day," Sarah said.

In fact, the squad is already separated into an eight-member varsity team, featuring five seniors, and the junior varsity squad.

"I think Rachel and I have been around volleyball so long, we have a pretty good feel for the game," Sarah said, "It was kind of easy for us to make that decision. As players improve, there may be players we need to pull up (to varsity)."

Taking a team that went winless in dual matches last season, Sarah Gates said the focus so far is technique.

"You can train a good athlete to do anything," she said. "These girls are good athletes. I want to train them to be better volleyball players, so we're really trying to focus on going back to basics and getting really good at the fundamentals."

Sarah Gates said most of the girls have played together, either at the high school or club level, so the task is improvement of what they know and development of mental toughness.

"There's a lot of potential there," she said.