MONTROSE – Go to a Hen Hud volleyball match. Any match. Odds are you’ll find at least one Sailors alumna walking around the gym or sitting in the stands. If you go to another one at some point in the year, you’ll probably see a different former player watching her alma mater.
It’s a family-like culture that Sailors head coach Diane Swertfager hoped to create when she took over the program nearly three decades ago. Since then, Hen Hud has developed into one of the most dominating sports programs in the state.
“You never know who is going to pop in to visit, which is wonderful,” she said. “They can see we’re still well and alive and playing to the best of our ability and what they started, we are continuing.”
Swertfager considered walking away from coaching the sport after winning the first of three consecutive state titles in 2006. Her family — her biological family, that is — wouldn’t allow her.
“They said, ‘No way!’” said Swertfager, who will be inducted into the Westchester County Sports Hall of Fame on Oct. 22. “My daughter was just beginning volleyball, so I was spending more time with her, too.”
Swertfager’s resume now includes more than 500 wins, three state titles and 12 section titles.
“I guess they made the right decision for me,” she added.
Had she hung up her clipboard for good, the former multi-sport standout athlete at Pleasantville said she likely would’ve coached softball or tennis. Whatever sport she chose, it would be for passion, not pay.
“If you’re coaching for the money, you’re doing the wrong thing,” she said. “You want to be there for the kids and help to make them better people, hopefully.
“They’re certainly making me a better parent.”
Under Swertfager’s guidance, the Sailors program has churned out 14 Con Edison scholar-athletes and over 30 collegiate players.
“They’re not just volleyball players, they’re really great people for our society,” she said. “That’s what I’m most proud of.”