Red Deer Public’s Kirsten DeZutter inducted into the ASAA Hall of Fame
A longtime Red Deer Public volleyball coach with an impressive record has received top honours from the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association.
Kirsten DeZutter was recently inducted into the coaching section of the ASAA Hall of Fame.
“It’s pretty awesome, and a humbling experience because I know there are a lot of coaches out there who put as much work, effort, love and care into their sport, and they deserve it too,” she said.
Kirsten added she has always been passionate about playing sports, has enjoyed being active, and always loved being part of a team.
“Throughout junior high and high school, I played a lot of sports. I enjoyed being an athlete, spending time with teammates and I also really connected with my coaches,” she said. “I was coached really well growing up and I had great role models and mentors who inspired me to always improve, and I think that helped transfer into my academic and personal life.”
Kirsten grew up in Edmonton and while pursuing her Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Education Degrees at the University of Alberta, she volunteer coached at her former high school. “I really enjoyed seeing sport from the coaching perspective and I had always thought wherever I teach I wanted to be able to contribute, if I could, in that capacity, and that’s how it grew. My parents taught me to give back, whenever I can and giving back to sport when it gave me so much was an easy task to embrace.”
Kirsten has been a teacher and volleyball coach at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School since 1999. She has quite the roster of wins under her belt, some of which include three Provincial first place finishes in a row in 2001, 2002 and 2003. This is significant because for both boys’ and girls’ high school teams, it’s the only 4A high school program in Alberta that has had a three-peat gold finish. Under Kirsten’s coaching, the Lindsay Thurber Raiders Senior Women’s Volleyball team is very proud of another record – they earned a berth to the Provincial final seven years in a row – winning five golds and two silvers in that period of time. In total, the Raiders have won eight gold medals and five silver medals, and one bronze medal.
“I have been very blessed with athletes who are willing to work hard, strive for excellence, always look to improve and are willing to embrace the (Lindsay Thurber) Raider culture,” she said. “Every championship is special for its own reason. Every team goes through some kind of adversity or some kind of obstacle, and just working together as a unit to overcome those really brings you closer together. We always try to work through it together so that we come out stronger. Commitment to a team-first attitude and a positive Raider culture is what I believe to be the foundation of our success.”
In reflecting on her career, Kirsten said a highlight was her first gold win.
“It took place in the Hunting Hills’ main gym and we were playing against my old high school, Harry Ainlay. We had a really great weekend, and gained momentum as the weekend progressed,” she said. “We were the underdog - we were not expected to win, but boy did we earn respect when we did.”
Another highlight for Kirsten was during the team’s medal streak in the seven year span and their pending opportunity to win gold at home. “We had three gold and two silver and there were a couple of players that had been on the team since grade ten who had won the two silvers. I remember my pre-game speech, I believe I still have it, and I vividly remember the speech those girls made to the team right before the final match. They said, ‘we already have two silvers, and we are done with that…it is time for gold…let's go get it.’ When an athlete starts with you in Grade 10 and gets to Grade 12 and says to the group ‘We’re doing this for each other, we play for each other, Raiders win for each other’, it’s pretty cool to sit back and watch the transformations in student-athletes and how they grow,” she said. “I must admit though, winning with my daughter and her teammates the last two years in a row, just to be able to experience that with her was amazing, and to celebrate that as a family was a dream come true. I could not have asked for a better outcome.”
Kirsten added the induction into the ASAA Hall of Fame has allowed her to pause and look back on all she has accomplished.
“You think about all of your teams from the past and the impact they have had on your life, and you see the athletes grow into these beautiful, accomplished young women, married with children, successful careers and it’s really awesome to know that you had this special experience with them,” she said. “I am so lucky and grateful for the time that I had with them.”
Chris Good, Principal at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School, said they are fortunate to have so many coaches who give their time to ensure students get great experiences.
“Kirsten DeZutter’s passion and commitment to sport has led to her volleyball program being the most successful in Alberta. The victory this year was more meaningful as her daughter Madelyn was one of the team captains,” he said. “Kirsten's success as a coach is found in her ability to always get the most out of her players, and to develop a team first culture. She builds up the confidence of her players through her unwavering support and encouragement.”