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Volleyball coach develops generations of players: 'Integrity, honesty, and hard work'

Deb Grafentin has been coaching volleyball since 1979.
Posted at 3:27 PM, Aug 30, 2023

LA VISTA, Neb. (KMTV) — Teaching the next generation of volleyball players is how Deb Grafentin spends most of her time these days.

“I love seeing them learn life lessons and taking them forward and moving on,” she said.

It’s something the Omaha native’s been doing for more than four decades as a coach. Starting in 1979 as a coach at the University of Miami. She then moved back to the Omaha area in 1982 and coached here ever since.

She’s been coaching at River City Juniors in La Vista since 1987 and has seen the sport evolve into something more dynamic.

In that time, she’s taught countless players over the years important lessons they can apply both on and off the volleyball court.

“We kinda try to teach a lot of integrity, honesty, and hard work,” she said.

Papillion-La Vista High School junior Lillian Vitera is one of those players, Grafentin also coached Lillian’s mother.

“I wanted to make sure that I could have her as a coach too,” Vitera said. “I was excited to have who my mom had in college.”

Like so many people, Grafentin is excited to see volleyball in the spotlight on Wednesday, as a potentially record-breaking crowd will see the Nebraska Volleyball team at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

“If there’s a state that could pull this off, it’s the state of Nebraska,” she said.

While Grafentin may have decades of experience as a coach on her own, she said the progress she’s seen in volleyball in that time is a shared effort.

“It all goes back to so many high school coaches, kids, collegiate coaches in this area just make the sport such a dynamic sport.”

Grafentin hopes to see the expansion of boys volleyball take off in Nebraska in the coming years.

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