The Bellevue Comets made it to the regional final this year in Class 2A volleyball action, but it certainly wasn’t an easy road to get to that point.

That’s why Head Coach Jodi Heim earned the Coach of the Year title for the River Valley Conference North Division and why she is recognized as the Herald Coach of the Year.

“This team really had to overcome some hardships this season,” Heim said. “We just took it one step at a time, match by match just to overcome some of those obstacles that we were faced with.”

That started off early for the comments. The father of one of the athletes died unexpectedly early on, and Heim said the entire team was affected. Bellevue rescheduled a couple of games while the team coped with the loss.

“Our coaching staff really works well together. We’ve been together now for five years at the high school level,” Heim said. “We had some big time support from our administration and our staff at school. Our school psychologists helped a lot with classroom time and the mental aspect for the season.

“We just focused one week at a time, one day at a time to get through it. They really overcame it and once regionals hit everything clicked and we took it match by match.”

The Comets came out to the postseason with a win against Cascade. The next game brought them against the Knights from North Cedar and they had a little extra motivation going in.

“In my five years here so far, we had never beaten North Cedar,” Heim said. “That was our game. For us, that was our state game. It went five sets and the determination and the grit that our girls played with, it was amazing.”

Bellevue went on the play Dike-New Hartford in the regional final, losing the game before state. They finished with 21-13 record.

“I knew we had that potential, that word that always lingers,” Heim said. “It just hadn’t clicked yet but it did during the end.”

It didn’t help that Heim had a team of impressive athletes like Rebecca Schroeder who finished fourth in the conference in kills and grabbed All-State honors or like Giana Michels who finished third in the conference with 463 defensive digs. Despite the struggles at the beginning of the season, the coaching staff and the athletes created an exciting season.

“I love the excitement of the game and bringing excitement to volleyball,” Heim said. “A lot of times volleyball is viewed as a non-exciting game and we wanted to show different. We had some big crowds this year because of the girls performance and the excitement they show on the court.

“I love being a part of their lives and hopefully making a change in a positive way.”

She certainly was this year. Heim said the athletes were all impacted by the death of the parent, but they really came together and rallied around it. After all of the bad happened, making an appearance in the regional final and beating a team you haven’t before makes her job pretty cool. Just ask her: did yo have any moments that made you realize you love your job?

“All season long,” Heim said. “It started with the hardships we went through at the beginning of the season and how that can really knock a team down but also bring a team together. It showed at the end with that North Cedar game, that was the moment.”