Pedersen ready to take on big task of becoming Stewartville's next volleyball coach

Feb. 29—STEWARTVILLE, Minn. — Sammy Pedersen is stepping into what would seem to be a daunting task.

The 29-year-old and native of Muskego, Wis., has been hired as the next Stewartville volleyball coach. In doing so, he is stepping into

some massively oversized shoes, those of John Dzubay.

The 75-year-old Dzubay announced his retirement after 47 years as a volleyball coach, almost all of them at Stewartville. Dzubay ended with a career won-lost record of 1,039-220 with five state championships. His 1,039 wins are the most in state volleyball history. Dzubay had just one losing season in all of those years, that one last year when the Tigers finished 12-16.

To all of that, Pedersen isn't blinking much.

"You can look at it both ways," Pedersen said of taking over for an icon. "I'd have put pressure on myself no matter (who he was replacing). Following up after someone like Dzubay, it's definitely a big task. But it is cool to see that they had as much success as they did here. Because that's something that I want to have, too."

Pedersen is a relative newcomer to being a head varsity volleyball coach. He's spent one year in that capacity, directing the Menasha (Wis.) girls team for a single season in 2019.

Still, he's anything but a newcomer to the sport.

Pedersen grew up playing high school volleyball in Muskego, which offered the boys version. From there he played at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh before working as a volleyball assistant at a host of high schools, spent one year as Menasha's head coach, and also got in two years as a volunteer assistant at Winona State University. His latest stop was at Winona Cotter, which was logistically handy. Pedersen and his wife, Evelyn, and their almost 1-year-old child live in the Winona bedroom community Goodview and he teaches health and physical education at Lewiston-Altura. Evelyn works at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

Pedersen says he immerses himself in volleyball because of his love for the game. But his desire to coach has everything to do with his wanting to help build young people.

"I think the most important part is developing good individuals who can learn life skills through playing sports," Pedersen said. "If I can (direct kids in the right way), that will translate to a lot of success in the classroom and on the court."

Stewartville activities director Curt Hughes noted that he got plenty of applicants for the Tigers volleyball coaching job. But he said there was one who stood out, Pedersen.

"Even though we had a strong pool of candidates, Samuel rose to the top pretty quickly," Hughes said. "He possesses a nice balance of playing and coaching experience along with having good organizational skills. From my research, he has proven that he shows empathy for his players and everyone involved in the program. I've gotten glowing reports on what's done with athletes."