AP NEWS

Volleyball: Mom, daughter share bond at net despite on-court rivalry

October 13, 2018

Trinity Funderburk carried a bouquet of flowers onto the court with her when Atascocita played Humble earlier this season in the first round of District 22-6A play.

The Lady Eagles sophomore setter approached the Humble bench to present the flowers to someone special in her life — her mother, Michelle Funderburk who also serves as Lady Wildcats coach.

“I kind of just wanted to show off that she was my mother,” Trinity said. “I gave her the flowers, but then we still had a match to play. It felt weird at first because she always watches me when I play club. This time she was coaching against me.”

The Lady Eagles would go onto win the match against the Lady Wildcats, but it was the first time Michelle and Trinity had competed against each other. The mother and daughter are currently preparing for a rematch on Oct. 23.

Trinity admits that her eyes wandered to her mother during the match.

“I did look at her a couple of times, but I tried not to because I knew I would get into trouble with (Atascocita) coach (Dani) Walker,” Trinity said, laughing. “My mom always coaches me and nit picks on everything because that’s the coach in her. I knew that after the game she was going to tell me how I did when we got home.”

Michelle, who is in her 17th season at Humble, was focused on beating the Lady Eagles, but said she was also keeping an eye out on her daughter.

“It’s kind of funny because the old athlete in me is wanting to beat them with my team,” said Michelle, who played volleyball at Mary-Hardin Baylor as an outside hitter. “I was still looking at her and critiquing her in my mind on how she should be playing with her footwork and sets. She basically gets coached when she gets home by me.”

Michelle and Trinity both found out back in February when realignment was announced that they would be squaring off in the same district after Humble moved up to Class 6A.

“Honestly, at first, I was thinking about my program at Humble High school,” Michelle said. “I had noticed that we were going to be competing against the big schools again. Then it crossed my mind as a mom that this was the first time I finally get to see her play this year. Even if it is was going against her, I finally got to see her play. It wasn’t hearing about it through other people or watching film. My eyes got to watch my child.”

Volleyball is discussed a lot at the Funderburk home, even when Michelle and Trinity are traveling with the Houston Skyline Juniors club team.

There’s volleyball chatter even at the dinner table.

“Really, all we do is volleyball,” Michelle said. “It’s either club volleyball, prepping together or literately just hanging out on the bed watching TV.”

The mother and daughter bond is there and can get frustrating at times for Michelle and Trinity.

However, Trinity still appreciates her mother’s coaching on the court and in life.

“We’re both competitors so that’s why we have disagreements sometimes,” Trinity said. “I try to take anything she tells me and use it. I get frustrated at times because she will tell me how I’m supposed to play at a certain spot and then I make a mistake. If I would have done what she had told me then I wouldn’t have made that mistake. We go back and forth, but I still love her.”

Michelle enjoys being in the bleachers watching Trinity during club season.

Being a mother calms down the emotions of her coaching side.

“I coach her at times in club, but when I’m not doing that I can just be a mom,” Trinity said. “She’s at Atascocita and the coaches coach her. I have to worry about my team at Humble. If I see something I will let her know, but I like where I can just sit back and watch my kid.”

Trinity played at times in her freshman season, but now is the starting setter for the Lady Eagles and leads the district in assists and aces.

The sophomore setter has become more comfortable around her teammates as the Lady Eagles are fighting for the last playoff spot in district.

Michelle has seen her daughter grow this year and improve on the court developing her leadership skills.

“Compared to last year, her confidence is night and day,” Michelle said. “As a coach and as a mom she has improved a lot running the offense. Her maturity, grits, guts and determination as a sophomore have been incredible. She has stepped up her game a lot and you can see it on the court.”

Trinity first was an outside-hitter when she started playing volleyball in middle school, but then transitioned to setter.

There’s one secret that Trinity has never told Michelle.

“I appreciate the fact that I was introduced to volleyball the most from my mom,” Trinity said. “I had played most sports, but I don’t think I had much of a choice (about) trying volleyball. It’s the most fun that I have ever had and I enjoy playing volleyball.”

Trinity wants to play volleyball in college just like her mother did and knows that it’s still a process.

Michelle and Trinity meet again on Oct. 23 at Humble for the last district game of the regular season. There will no special exchanges made this time. It will be all about another Funderburk rivalry.

“Of course I want to beat her, but it’s the second round of district play and the last game of the season,” Michelle said. “I’m excited to see her and how she plays. It’s the second time around in district and I know that she’s better than the first time we played them.”

“I just want to show off,” Trinity said laughing as she looked at her mother. “I grew up around that team and I know those girls a lot. We want to go out there and win.”

marcus.gutierrez@chron.com

AP RADIO
Update hourly