When Jaymee Steach takes the floor at Pasco High tonight for likely the final time in her career, she expects to feel a range of emotions.
While that is something every high school senior athlete goes through, it is especially unique for Steach.
The setter doesn’t play for Pasco. She is a four-year starter for cross-town rival Chiawana High.
But in her dreams growing up, she always saw herself wearing the purple and white, not the blue and white.
“One of my biggest goals was freshman year I wanted to be that girl, wearing that jersey, on that court,” she said. “That was one of the hardest reasons to come (to Chiawana). I didn’t find out until eighth grade, and I’m like, ‘Great. I’m months away from finally being a part of this thing I’ve wanted for so long and suddenly we’re (at Chiawana) instead of there and it was really hard.’”
Chiawana plays at Pasco at 7 p.m. tonight in a Mid-Columbia Conference match.
Steach grew up in the Pasco High program. Her dad, Jim Steach, was the head coach for the Bulldogs from 1987 until 2008 when he moved to Chiawana when the new school opened.
Jim Steach remembers his daughter running around on the floor of the state tournament when she was 3. She sat on the bench with the team as an elementary school student, and she started practicing with the Bulldogs as a middle schooler.
That’s why it took her awhile to become comfortable representing the Riverhawks.
“It took until my junior year, to be perfectly honest,” she said. “I was not happy my freshman year. I did stuff, but I just went through the motions. I wasn’t enjoying where I was and I wasn’t wanting to be involved.”
It was just one of many challenges she has faced, and overcome in her high school career.
Being the coach’s daughter on a team is never easy, and she has had to constantly prove she belongs.
“I try to let my playing do the talking,” she said. “I work as hard as I possibly can. If I catch myself not doing that, I’m like, ‘You’ve got to pick it up now.’
“It’s something I’m constantly telling myself. ‘You need to be better.’ ‘You need to be the best out there you can be.’”
Part of the reason Steach is so good is because of her background.
She has been playing volleyball for as long as she can remember. Her dad started coaching her when she was 10 and has been involved ever since.
“Some people might say, ‘Did she have to?’ “ her dad said. “No, she didn’t have to, but in another way she kind of had to because of the way she grew up. It was what she wanted to do. What she dreamed of doing.”
And all of those dreams have paid off.
She has played for elite club teams, she was named to the all-league first team last year and has her sights on playing at the collegiate level.
“She is an intelligent girl and as a setter, that is the greatest thing you can have,” Jim Steach said. “She has just gotten better and better about learning how to attack teams and what to do, rather than just blindly throwing the ball wherever.
“That is part of what is making us so difficult right now, is the ball can go anywhere. She does a pretty good job of disguising it and getting it to the right people at the right time.”
One of those people she has been passing to is younger sister Megan, a sophomore, who is an outside hitter for the Riverhawks.
It’s the first time the sisters have been on the same team, and they both got to enjoy a moment of history with their dad last week.
When the Riverhawks beat Walla Walla on Sept. 18, it was the 400th win of his career.
“One of the last few serves I had that match, I was thinking, ‘Wow, we are almost closing out win 400. This is something big,’ “ Jaymee said. “It was running through all our minds.”
It was a perfect way to start the final year Jaymee and her dad will have on the court.
When her father started coaching he talked to other coaches around the state who had coached their daughters and asked whether it was a good idea.
“They said it is the best thing you could ever do,” he said. “It’s been a great experience. When Megan is finally done, that may be when I’m finally done.”