Peigen family face off in prep volleyball showdown

Peigen family face off in prep volleyball showdown

August 21st, 2014 by Kelley Smiddie in Sports - Preps

East Hamilton volleyball assistant Libby Peigen works the first game of the season on Tuesday against visiting Soddy-Daisy.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

Ooltewah volleyball coach Elaine Peigen

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster/Times Free Press.

From the time East Hamilton began fielding high school sports teams in the fall of 2009, the Hurricanes' and Lady Hurricanes' programs quickly developed a rivalry with nearby Ooltewah.

For the most part it's just been neighbor vs. neighbor in the mix. But now in volleyball, family has gotten involved.

Libby Peigen played volleyball for her mother, Elaine, at Ooltewah before moving on to a college career at Lee University. With that having been completed, Libby has moved into the coaching ranks -- for one season at the middle school level, and now at the high school level as Kristy Lenoir's assistant at East Hamilton.

Ooltewah is hosting East Hamilton today at 5:30 p.m., in an early but key District 5-AAA match.

Libby, who is on target to graduate college in December, said coaching at the high school level is something she has aspired to do. She said she's also intrigued about possibly coaching at the college level at some point.

"Hopefully, I can establish myself in the Chattanooga area the way she has done," Libby said of her mother, who has headed the Lady Owls' program for 21 years.

From the time she was 3 or 4 years old, Libby tried to tag along with her mother to Lady Owls' matches and practices as often as she could. Mom wouldn't allow her to go on the out-of-town trips when she was young.

"I would cry when I didn't get to go to games," Libby said. "I would cry if I didn't get to sit too close to the bench. I wanted to go to every single practice. It just must be in my blood, from the day I was born. I think she had a lot to do with that."

Elaine said she could tell early on that her daughter had a passion for volleyball. And if seven years of Libby playing for her at Ooltewah Middle and High schools didn't dissuade her from following in her footsteps, nothing was going to.

"I know it's tough being a coach's kid," Elaine said. "She had to hear it on the court. Then she had hear it when she got home. She would go to her dad and say, 'Do you know what it's like playing for your mom?'"

Elaine believed all along her daughter had coaching potential. Others have thought enough of Libby's ability as an instructor that she's been invited to work camps at Auburn and Georgia Tech in the past.

"She would always see things other people didn't see -- things that I didn't see," Elaine said. "It will be interesting to see with her knowledge what kind of coach she evolves into. She's patient. She handles kids very well. I think she can be a great coach at the high school level and the middle school level. I'm proud of what she's achieved so far."

What Libby is hoping to achieve today is a Lady 'Canes' victory, which would move them to 2-0 on the season and in the district. A win today would do the same for the Lady Owls.

"I think it's going to be very odd walking into that gym and not rooting for the school that's had most of my heart the last 22 years," Libby said.

Both expect to do some good-natured ribbing before the match. They both insist they will have a peaceful dinner together afterward.

"When we leave the gym, it will be over and done with," Elaine said, "unlike when she played for me. It'll be OK."

Contact Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.