UTSA Roadrunners volleyball coach Laura Groff has seen tremendous success in her 17 seasons with the program. Thanks to some tip-top talent close to campus, the Birds should earn their eighth 20-win season in nine years.
"It's really opened eyes as we have a lot of local kids saying, ‘Hey, I'm interested' and it helps,” said Groff, a Jefferson High School alumnus.
There are 19 players on the roster. Eleven of them come from the San Antonio area and six of them are freshmen.
"Hey, you have this great school right in your back door, plus your family can watch you at the same time, so that's kind of our pitch,” Groff said.
It doesn't always work, though. Just ask Madison, Laura's daughter.
"People would ask me a lot, 'Oh, are you going to play for your mom?' It was definitely a thought but I'd rather go off and do things on my own,” said Madison, a senior at Churchill High School.
“That was hard for me to swallow because I feel like she can play at the next level,” Laura said.
The former professional volleyball player found her passion and profession with the game.
"I can lead my team at UTSA but it doesn't mean I can lead Madison through her journey in the sport,” Laura said.
Madison has enjoyed her time on the court, but once the season is over, she has no desire to play at the collegiate level.
And that's her choice.
"It's bittersweet,” Madison said.
The mother-daughter dynamic always featured hints of work.
"She will be half my mom and half recruiting, so sometimes it's kind of stressful for me,” Madison admitted.
"When [Madison] was younger, she would tell me, ‘I just want my mommy.’ Now she understands that I can do my job and be a mom," Laura said.
She was also there for assistance during games, and maybe a tad bit more than Madison would have liked.
"She's definitely an off-the-court coach to me all the time,” Madison said laughing.
Despite Laura's ability to wear different hats, it hasn't stopped others from meshing the two worlds together.
"A lot of people think I get special treatment because she's my mom. Like, that does get to me sometimes,” Madison admitted.
She's learned to block out the noise pretty well, though.
“It doesn't matter to me what those people think. It's just my personal decision that I don't want to continue [playing volleyball] anymore,” Madison said.
"I want her to be like me and she's totally different," Laura said.
It has been a fun ride. Seventeen years in the making.
The one recruit this coach has always had in her backyard is slipping away, but this mom could not be happier for her child.
"She's my hero,” Madison said. “My No. 1 role model and No. 1 supporter and always there for me."
"I just cherish the moment that this is it for her in volleyball," Laura said. "She had to want it for herself and she figured it out. And that's probably the most enjoyable part of it, that she figured it out."
But hey, maybe the coach can make one last pitch?
“I'm sure if [a college recruiter] knocks on the door and says ‘come visit me,’ I hope she would entertain the idea of going to visit,” Laura said.