Gonzaga volleyball assistant coach Katie Hinrichs, life has never gone according to plan. Her journey with GU is no exception.
As a former three-sport student-athlete, in basketball, volleyball and softball throughout high school, Hinrichs originally intended to attend college to play softball.
But when an opportunity arose to leave her hometown of Pullman, Washington, and play volleyball at Lewis-Clark State College in Idaho, she couldn’t refuse.
And thus Hinrichs’ vision for her future changed. She was led down a path of opportunities that Hinrichs credits her faith for.
“I think God has a huge plan for me and He’s really good at directing me toward that plan,” she said.
Hinrichs spent her undergraduate years at Lewis-Clark, where she received a degree in business administration with a pre-law emphasis and spent time on the school’s mock trial team. She initially planned to attend law school, with hopes to be a lawyer.
That was until her volleyball coach at the time, Jen Greeny — who is currently the head coach at Washington State — offered Hinrichs a position to work with her and her husband at WSU as a director of volleyball operations. She spent six years on staff with them.
“The opportunity came and I took the coaching side of it,” she said. “So I did take my LSAT for nothing.”
During her time at WSU, Hinrichs saw major growth in the team. The year before arrival, the Cougars went 0-18 in the PAC-12. When she left, they had qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
Hinrichs decided to push forward in her volleyball career and stepped into a different role at Montana State University as an associate head coach under Daniel Jones.
“God seems to throw me in the fire when I need it,” Hinrichs said.
After her first year at Montana State, Hinrichs helped double the team’s wins. In her second year, Montana State made the conference tournament, which had previously never been done.
But with all that success, Hinrichs craved change. And when the opportunity came to become an assistant coach at GU, she took it.
“When I came, it was so crazy because this decision wasn’t easy for me,” she said. “I’ve left people behind that I love and I left a title that people said I should have kept. I just chose courage over comfort.”
Hinrichs summoned all that courage during her first two weeks. She took the job 10 days before GU’s season started. Her first day was Aug. 5 and practice started Aug. 10. She used this period to transition into the culture of the team, even if that meant not being as vocal as she typically is during practice.
“After those two weeks, I found my role and in that role, I’m super energetic and I am passionate,” she said. “That’s kind of my role is to bring the energy and encouragement.”
Despite a rocky start, Hinrichs knew GU was where she wanted to be, citing the family environment that head coach Diane Nelson and assistant coach Drew Pascua support.
“She’s well-ingrained in the community and has a huge support system, not just in Spokane or Washington, but in Montana and Idaho and surrounding,” Nelson said. “People are drawn to her. I’ve had more alumni and parents just say she’s an awesome addition to the staff.”
She was also enticed by the caliber of West Coast Conference volleyball and helping student-athletes achieve a high level of success.
“I’m super passionate about it because what they do on the court will then set them up for success and excellence off the court,” she said. “... People who are passionate about sports need to be passionate about people.”
“We’re creating environments that allow people to thrive, but we just happen to have a ball and a scoreboard.”