Alumni Coach Profile: Tony Batinovich

What makes a coach tick?  

Is it the glory of winning?  

Or seeing their players succeed?  

After 34 years of coaching girls volleyball and softball, former coach Tony Batinovich has discovered the key to making unforgettable memories and unbreakable bonds.  

“Volleyball is a sport that everybody needs to play together in order to succeed, and even having one individual that might be really, really good, they still need their teammates in order to get things done,” Batinovich said.  

As someone who has coached for several decades, Batinovich says he sees how much more competitive the sport has gotten. 

“With club sports and club volleyball, the competition for the kids to make varsity sometimes is a little tougher now. A lot of kids played club and it still comes down to who’s got individual skills and who works well with others. I’d say it’s gotten a lot more competitive which is a good thing and a bad thing,” Batinovich said. 

Batinovich finds what the current players are doing to be amazing. 

“With this year’s team, some of the skills that those girls, in the last few years have demonstrated, were things that the national team probably used to do in the ‘90s,” Batinovich said. 

Batinovich believes that his ability to read his players on the court is what makes coaching fun. 

          “ It’s not like my strategy is going to be so much different than somebody else we’re going to play, but knowing your team, knowing what they can do, and making sure you can get the most out of them. Listen to them when they have suggestions and then using that can mean success,” Batinovich said. 

Batinovich says that the player’s opinion should be just as important as the coach’s. 

“That [occasionally], I’m not always right. That you got to listen to them a lot more. They see things from a different perspective being on the court or on the field, so they might see it differently than you from the sidelines. It’s their season,” Batinovich said. 

Batinovich says he is impressed with his former player Allie Schumacher and her success as the head volleyball coach for PHS. 

“Allison Schumacher is a great young lady and I’m glad she took over the program. Her and Braylie Jeffers both played for me here, and it was really cool to see their last couple years of success. This year was just historical, there are only two other programs in the history of Puyallup volleyball since 1973 that have placed higher than they did this year,” Batinovich said. 

Batinovich says he enjoys seeing players grow and succeed like this year’s volleyball team. 

“This season seeing Rebecca Wilbur come back from her knee injury and got out on the court and contribute was cool. As well as Leilah Lemalu; she got better and better since she was a freshman. Then Allie started figuring some things out as a coach; you think you know everything, but it takes a while sometimes, but I was so proud of those guys,” Batinovich said. 

Batinovich hopes to inspire future students and players with his impact at Puyallup High School. 

“This year’s juniors when they graduate, nobody’s going to remember who I am because I’ll be long gone. Hopefully I did a nice job, but I always could do a better job. I hope I did a nice job with Allie and Braylie and left them with something that they can pass on to other girls in the program,” Batinovich said. 

While winning league titles and traveling for state tournaments has always been memorable, Batinovich had an experience not many coaches can say they’ve had 

“Winning league titles was always fun, and we qualified for state many times because of the athletes I was blessed to have here… But one of my proudest moments as a coach wasn’t on the court, one of the young ladies who graduated in 97, had me walk her down the aisle when she got married,” Batinovich said.