Brooke and Caleb Sibert coach girls’ basketball and volleyball, respectively, and they’re using their situation to help shape young lives.
CLEARWATER — As long as there have been organized sports, coaches have been expected to do more than diagram plays and fill out rosters. Along with teaching the X’s and O’s, they nurture young minds, preparing their players for the challenges and struggles they’ll encounter as they mature into adults.
At Calvary Christian School, two coaches united in marriage and in their faith are adding another dimension to the traditional player/coach dynamic.
Caleb and Brooke Sibert have been coaching the Warriors girls’ volleyball and basketball teams, respectively, for the past four years. Their relationship to each other and to their players has made for a unique situation at the school.
“The kids are always watching how we interact,” said Caleb Sibert, 27. “It’s cool because we get to show them the true us, and it’s not always perfect — they’ve seen us succeed, and they’ve seen us fail. It’s an unusual dynamic.”
“Our marriage has to be strong or our coaching would suffer,” Brooke Sibert, also 27, added. “We try to be role models for what a godly marriage should be.”
From coaches’ kids to coaching kids
The Siberts met while attending Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion in 2004. Brooke was a star on the private Christian college’s basketball team, while Caleb began assisting with the school’s volleyball program while he was still a student.
The two had a lot in common. Both are athletes and the children of coaches — Brooke’s father was the longtime head football coach at the University of Toledo, while Caleb’s dad was a high school volleyball coach in Indiana.
Those similarities plus their strong faith made for a quick courtship, and their dedication and drive put their personal and professional lives on a fast track.
“We graduated in December 2008, got engaged in February, married in Ohio in June and moved to Florida in July of 2009,” Brooke said. “It all moved pretty quickly.”
After learning that Lakeside Christian School on Sunset Point Road was looking for a special education teacher as well as a basketball coach, Brooke, who holds a degree in special education, added one condition before coming to Clearwater.
“I pretty much told them in order for me to come down here I’d need something for my husband,” she said.
“They kind of made my position,” Caleb added.
Building tradition at Calvary Christian
The Siberts were at Lakeside for a year before a pair of coaching positions opened up at Calvary Christian, a rapidly growing school at the corner of McMullen-Booth Road and Drew Street.
After meeting with school officials and hearing their plans for the future of the institution as well as the athletic department, the couple decided to make the move.
“Our headmaster and athletic director really cast a vision for our athletic programs, and just the school in general, to continue to grow and continue to get better,” Caleb said. “So that was important to us.”
Soon after arriving for the 2010-11 academic year, the Siberts began making their mark on the Warriors athletic department.
After hovering near the .500 mark for two years, Caleb’s varsity volleyball squad is coming off consecutive 20-win seasons and matching playoff appearances and is considered a program on the rise in Class 3A.
“This is my fourth year, and we’re trying to establish what the program is all about,” he said. “The expectations are higher now that we have the program headed in the right direction.”
Brooke’s basketball team, meanwhile, has been on a meteoric rise after a slow start similar to the volleyball program. The Lady Warriors are coming off back-to-back trips to the state final four hoops tournament, losing in the semis two years in a row.
“The girls work hard; I give them all the credit,” Brooke said. “This was the first year I coached a group from freshmen to seniors, so that made a big difference.”
Not surprisingly, the school’s athletic director, Darrell Don, is thrilled with the couple’s contributions, both on and off the court.
“The Siberts have been great. We’ve been very blessed and very excited to have them here,” he said. “Not only are they young, energetic and passionate about their teams, but they’re very open to ideas, and they buy in to what we’re trying to do here.
“They didn’t come in and inherit very strong programs, but they’ve both taken their programs to a very high level in a short period of time. But the biggest thing for us is they’re a godly example of a healthy marriage, and that’s good for the kids to see.”
The Siberts realize their situation is unique. They’re in the process of building and strengthening their marriage while attempting to do the same with their up-and-coming athletic programs.
By relying on each other, their players and their faith in God, and putting less emphasis on wins and losses, they’ve successfully navigated all the obstacles they’ve faced so far.
“By far God is first in everything we do — our marriage, our coaching, everything we do,” Brooke said.
“The most important thing to us is shaping these girls’ lives. We do team devotions, meet one-on-one and talk about everything other than basketball. Coaching is an opportunity to get close to these girls and make an impact on their lives.”
“Our faith is really important to us, and it makes us realize it’s not about us, it’s about the kids,” Caleb said. “We do this for the Lord, and we do this for the kids.
“We have an opportunity to accomplish something pretty special here, and we want to make sure we do it the right way.”