Megan Clayberg served Central for 14 years by coaching volleyball to three national titles and teaching in the exercise science department from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s. She is now a full-time physical education teacher at Pella High School and cares for her family.
“I enjoyed so many aspects of the work I did at Central,” she says. “But honestly, the best part of coaching at the college level is building relationships with those young women, sharing life with them.”
Clayberg can often be found in the bleachers supporting her children in one of their many sporting activities. Watching her children play has become one of her main passions since leaving Central.
“I knew that Central was the right place to be at the time, and when it was time to be done and be with my family, I knew that as well,” Clayberg says. “Central was so gracious to allow me to follow my heart’s desire on both counts—when I came and when it was time to be done.”
Q: What are your educational and career backgrounds?
I grew up in Omaha, Neb. Went to Omaha West Side School, graduated, and then I went to Wayne State College in Neb. I played volleyball there for four years and basketball for one year and majored in physical education for kindergarten through 12th grade. I also received a coaching endorsement. Right away after Wayne State, I went to graduate school at Fort Hays State in Kansas. I received my Masters of Science and an emphasis in coaching administration and graduated in May 1991. I then accepted the position at Central College to take over as head volleyball coach and teach in the exercise science department.
Q: How long did you coach and teach at Central?
Fourteen years. I was the varsity head coach, and then I coached the JV for two years. I stepped down to coach the JV to still be a part of the program but have less responsibility, so I could spend more time with my four children. Then after two years, we decided that the best thing for our family would be for me to be home with our kids.
Q: Can you tell me about the successes you had with the Central volleyball team?
When I came to Pella to coach at Central College, they were a decent team, but they had never had the opportunity to advance on from conference play because they didn’t play a rigorous enough schedule. In those first years I coached, we just progressed naturally and got better every year. So it was a process of getting established, getting the right type of players into the college, creating team chemistry and building up our schedule. Once we did that we had some credibility, so that we could go on to the play-offs. In 1997 we got third in the nation, and the next three years, 1998, 1999 and 2000, we won three national championship titles.
Q: What did you enjoy most about being a volleyball coach at Central?
I enjoyed so many aspects of the work I did at Central – the kids that I got to meet and work with on a daily basis were very enjoyable. But honestly, the best part of coaching at the college level is building relationships with those young women, sharing life with them and being a person in their lives that can help with their choices. Relationships at the college level are so special.
Q: Is there a favorite memory that you have at Central?
Oh wow, there have been a lot of memories. Our women’s basketball team won the national final in 1993. I was sitting in the stands and that was an electrifying feeling. Obviously when we won our first title was pretty special, and when we got to host and win our third title in Pella.
Q: What do you miss the most about coaching at Central?
I definitely miss the relationships that I had with a variety of people. You become a mentor in the lives of the athletes, and you become friends with their parents. You really build a special bond there. I also miss the influence that the women had on my kids. We had all of our kids during my coaching time, but the younger two didn’t get to experience what the older two did by being a part of the road trips and sitting on the bench. Those girls just really loved them up. That was a very special thing I could share with them, and they shared back with me.
Q: What did you do after leaving Central?
Brett and I opened up a clinic in Pella called Pella Pets. We got that up and running, and I stayed home with my kids. I started teaching a lot of group exercise classes and getting the kids slowly off to school. When Nolan starting going to school, I was approached by the high school volleyball to come help them. I said no because the reason I left coaching was because I didn’t want to miss my kids in their activities. We worked out an agreement that when my kids had something, I would go to that instead of volleyball. So I did that for a season, and then the physical education position opened at the high school. I took that position, and now teach full-time high school PE.
Q: Is there any advice you have for student athletes at Central?
To think the best of others, and be the best team member that you can be; so that when it’s all said and done, you can look back with no regrets. Reach your potential, and you’ll have to work hard to do that. Take the summer and think about who you want to become because this is a clean slate opportunity. The choices you make during these college years help mold you into the person you will be for the rest of your life.