Molly Phelps, Head Coach of the Valparaiso Vikettes, has been a part of organizations that foster relationships and a sense of belonging for her entire life. Now she is continuing on that legacy, cultivating lasting relationships and a sense of community for those who need it.
Phelps was born in Akron, Ohio, but when she was six years old, she moved to Valparaiso and immediately found a forever home. She attended Valparaiso High School, where she was a member of numerous clubs and organizations, like Varsity Singers, the Natural Helpers Program, theater, and, of course, the Vikettes. After graduating from high school, Phelps went on to study at Ball State University in Muncie.
“I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education,” Phelps explained. “My license is for teaching K-12 general and choral music.”
After graduating from college, Phelps moved to South Bend for a few years before returning to her hometown, knowing there was no better place for her to raise her growing family.
“I’m from Ohio, but I’ve lived here for so long, so I really consider Valpo to be my hometown,” Phelps said. “You know when you’re younger and in high school, you want nothing more than to get out. But I don’t think there is a better place to live and raise a family.”
From there, everything began to fall into place. A former teammate and Vikette of Phelps told her that the current head coach was stepping down. Phelps was immediately interested, so she applied for the job, interviewed and for the past six years, the Valparaiso native as served as head coach for an organization that has a special place in her heart.
“The girls on my team are by far my favorite thing about the job,” Phelps said. “I’ll get girls trying out when they’re in 8th grade and make the team as freshmen. So I get to watch them grow from their freshman year to their senior year and now I’ve seen some of those girls go off to college and start their careers. So I get to form relationships with these girls and be a positive and supportive influence.”
Unlike other sports Valparaiso High School offers, Vikettes is a two season sport, which means Phelps and her girls are always busy with not just school sports, but also throughout the community.
“There’s always something going on since we are a two season sport,” Phelps explained. “We do the fall season which is football and soccer games, and then we do the winter season, which are the basketball games. But then after that we do a lot of activities, like April Antics and community events like the Chocolate Walk.”
Phelps’ day-to-day responsibilities include running team practices, overseeing tryouts, meetings, running their annual summer camps, fundraisers, and the incredibly popular Vikettes Jr. Dance Clinic, where young girls around the community learn a routine and perform it at halftime of a basketball game. The job keeps Phelps busy and always on her feet, but the opportunity of coaching her girls not just in their sport, but also in life, makes every busy day worth it.
“It’s good for these girls to get a sense of a team, of working towards something that is greater than themselves,” Phelps explained. “I try to hold them to higher standards and I am straight with them from the beginning. My girls have a Grade Point Average that was the highest of any winter girls or boys sport. So I teach them to be respectful of their peers and of their teachers and, of course, to respect themselves.”
When Phelps isn’t coaching, she is attending concerts or musicals at local theaters, satisfying her lifelong love for music. She also loves spending time with her two children, Gracie and Max.
“One of my hobbies is doing fun things with my kids,” Phelps said. “Going on bike rides, to the beach, taking them to the park, which occupies most of my time. But they’re my entire life.”
Phelps is also an advocate and member of the Lupus Foundation of America, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness for the autoimmune disease and helping patients around the country. Phelps’ advocacy for awareness and support comes from a personal experience with the disease and a need for support during a difficult time.
“I was diagnosed with lupus when I was 21,” Phelps explained. “I was relatively sick for a while, and it was actually my mom, a nurse, who put the pieces together and within days, I was seeing a family friend who was a rheumatologist and they confirmed the diagnosis.”
Phelps struggled with the disease as she sought out which treatment was right for her, but now, over a decade after her diagnosis, is healthier than she was even before she was diagnosed and is dedicated to showing support to other people who struggle with the disease like she did.
“It was shortly after I was diagnosed that I became involved with the Lupus Foundation of America,” Phelps said. “I was in a support group and quickly got involved with the national chapter. But one of the many things I’m passionate about is spreading awareness and advocacy.”
For her entire life, Molly Phelps has been involved with countless organizations all dedicated to bettering the lives of others. Whether it’s being a role model for young girls and helping them grow into successful women, or advocating for people around the country who struggle with lupus every day, Molly Phelps has shown how to an advocate for everyone.
For more information about the Valparaiso Vikettes, go to http://valparaisohigh.ss10.sharpschool.com/athletics/vikettes/.