Boys’ Volleyball Transcends Generations Father-Son Work Together Coaching Chicago Youth

By March 29, 2018Youth
 March 29, 2018  By Sam Mattlin, Nate Fields, and Patrick Murphy

Moises Alou and Felipe Alou in Major League Baseball. Austin Rivers and Doc Rivers in the National Basketball Association. Marty Howe and Gordie Howe in the National Hockey League.

These are all father-son pairs in which a son has played for his father. Boys’ youth volleyball has its own father-son duo in Larry and Ed Wrather. From the time Larry started playing volleyball in the fifth grade, he played for his father, the founder of Chicago Vortex Volleyball Club. As a Vortex coach, Ed helped develop his son as a player. Now, Ed helps guide Larry in his coaching as they work together coaching a younger generation of boys’ volleyball players.

Ed began coaching for the Vortex when he started the club in 2011. Larry returned to the Vortex team for the 2014-2015 season to serve as assistant director after
graduating from Ball State University where he played on the men’s volleyball team.

Larry now helps coach the 17-year- old youth boys’ team. In the four years Larry has been a coach, Ed has offered coaching advice. “I have him dial it back sometimes because he’s an intense athlete,” Ed said. “He’s still looking at professional ranks, and he’s still playing in the Double-A ranks. He sees things as a player’s point of view, and I have to pull him back to see things as a coach.”

Larry said coming back to help his father has been an interesting experience. Some days are better than others because of the tension that can arise between father and
son. For Ed, the opportunity to work with his son is nothing short of fulfilling.

“Every dad’s dream is to work with his child, and their son comes in and takes over or works beside him,” Ed said. “Because as a dad, you would like to see your son follow in your footsteps. That’s the greatest compliment.”

Ed Wrather huddles his team prior to its match at the 2018 Boys Winter Volleyball Championships.

Since the 2014-15 season when Larry joined Vortex as a coach, Ed estimates about 160-200 athletes have been on the team. Ed said participation in the club “is up and
down because kids are going where friends are.”

Larry said he’s seeing kids start playing volleyball earlier, a shift he attributes to more coaching techniques. “The growth has increased a good amount,” Larry said. “For the fact that there’s so much more teaching items that coaches can use to help their players to learn and understand the game more.”

Current and future Vortex players might notice differences in coaching style or technique between Larry and Ed, but they’re likely to also pick up on the father-son
pair’s shared passion for the game of volleyball.

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