Bonander steps down as Lady Panther volleyball coach

Intends to spend time with family

Posted 5/23/19

After three seasons at the helm of the Powell High School volleyball program, head coach Randi Bonander has stepped down to spend more time with family.

“It was a really tough …

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Bonander steps down as Lady Panther volleyball coach

Intends to spend time with family

Posted

After three seasons at the helm of the Powell High School volleyball program, head coach Randi Bonander has stepped down to spend more time with family.

“It was a really tough decision,” Bonander said. “When I took the job, my goal was to kind of turn the program around and get it going in a positive direction. I knew I would need a few years to do that, and so it was pretty tough to step down; I went back and forth. I love the girls, and I love the game.”

Bonander’s daughter Rachel — a senior standout on the volleyball, basketball and track teams at PHS — recently signed to play basketball at Texas A&M International (TAMIU) on a full-ride scholarship. Rachel had previously committed to Miles Community College in Miles City, Montana, but decided to follow former Miles Community College head coach Nate Vogel to Texas.

“... That changed things a lot,” coach Bonander said. With Rachel heading to Texas instead of Montana, “I just felt like I couldn’t give all the time and energy needed to be given to being the varsity volleyball coach at this time,” Bonander said. “I felt like I had to put my family first.”

The Lady Panthers had a successful 2018 season, posting a 21-14 record and going undefeated in the 3A Northwest Quadrant. The team advanced to the state tournament for the first time in years, finishing fifth. Bonander said she was proud the senior-laden team was able to make it to state in their final season.

“The most gratifying thing to me about last season was, working with my assistants, we were always on the same page in growing the culture of the program,” she said. “Teaching the girls how to be leaders and how to work together as a team. Getting that senior group to state was a pretty big deal. We had 10 seniors on that team, and that is very unique.”

Bonander said there were many highlights from her three seasons, but one in particular that stands out was the team’s Purple Out Night during the 2017 season. The fundraiser, hosted by the volleyball team to help the family of the late Calvin Sanders defer medical expenses, raised over $12,000 for the cause.

“That was a big deal,” she said. “I get goosebumps when I talk about it. I just feel like he [Sanders] did so much for our community, and that was one little way we could give back and honor him and help his family.”

Asked what she’ll miss the most, Bonander said the answer was easy.

“Definitely the girls,” she said. “Being with them and the love of the game with my assistants, too; that was probably the hardest reason [to leave], knowing I wouldn’t be around the girls or my assistants. We all love the game so much. Everyone worked so hard to achieve their goals.”

Bonander, who teaches third grade at Southside Elementary, doesn’t rule out a return to coaching at some point, but family and teaching need to be the priority right now. She said she’d love to coach again one day, perhaps at a lower level. Bonander’s youngest daughter will be entering the third grade next year. As she gets older, the coaching bug may bite again.

“I do love the game so much; I do love teaching it to the girls,” Bonander said. “That makes me think I would like to be involved in it in some way down the road.”

The coach said she’ll also miss the community support of the program, which was always apparent, regardless of how the team was playing.

“We struggled a bit my first year, but even with that, at our home games and games that were close by, people still traveled to watch,” she said. “And not just parents. People in the community who have always followed athletic activities always showed up. We had really great community support here in Powell.”

“I’m just thankful for the opportunity,” Bonander added. “I couldn’t have done it without my assistants: Tasha Miller and McKenzie Graft. They were definitely my sounding board and my support group.”

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