Former Lady Blues two-sport star rises up coaching ranks

Eric Smith

Dani McHenry was a well-known name at Washburn, being a two-sport athlete and the daughter of Lady Blues basketball coach, Ron McHenry. Now Dani is back, but her name has changed.

Dani Schmidt, as she is now known by after marrying former Ichabod baseball player Jesse Schmidt, is the new assistant coach for the Lady Blues volleyball team.

“It’s a great opportunity to get my coaching career started and obviously come back to a school where I obviously care about the program a lot,” Schmidt said. “I care about the coaches and just the school in general and want to see be successful. It’s a good fit for me.”

The former Washburn star, who received the position after assistant coach Trent Jones accepted the head coaching position at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, has many goals.

“I hope to kind of balance out the coaching staff and be someone that pushes the girls but can be someone that they can come and talk to about issues and stuff that they are having too,” Schmidt said. “I also will help with recruiting and getting people to come to Washburn and see what a great place it is because I enjoyed my time here.”

Head coach Chris Herron, who has known the new assistant coach since high school, feels she will help the team.

“She’s a very good volleyball person. She’s familiar with the program, she’s familiar with me,” Herron said. “All-in-all, it seems to be a great fit.”

Schmidt was a two-time All-American in volleyball and the first Washburn woman to earn that honor.

“It’s always good that all our players can look up in the rafters and see her All-American banner sitting up there,” Herron said. “That holds a little bit of clout itself.”

Herron knows Dani well and admits she doesn’t have too many weaknesses as a coach.

“The only thing we always talk about with Dani is that she’s not always the most vocal human being in the world, and that’s something we talked about when she was a player and that’s something that she’s going to work on as a coach,” Herron said. “I did notice her talking to some kids in practice and telling them things that I know she wouldn’t have done two or three years ago. So maturation process has already begun.”

There is one current player that was on the 2004 team with Schmidt when she played at Washburn, Monica Miesner.

“Monica was a freshman when she was a senior. Monica red-shirted or else she’d be gone too,” Herron said. “So there’s a little familiarity there.”

This is Schmidt’s second time on the Washburn volleyball coaching staff after serving as a graduate assistant in 2006. She has also coached club volleyball including the Topeka Impact, an under-17 team.

“I probably don’t have as much experience as others that would’ve applied, but since I came from the program and kind of know what we do and what we stand for, I think it’s a good fit for both sides,” Schmidt said.