In his past 13 seasons at Missouri, coach Wayne Kreklow has been able to use the term “family-like” atmosphere as one of his main selling points in the volleyball recruiting field.
The phrase, one coined by NCAA coaches far and wide, might apply in no better place than MU, where Kreklow’s wife, Susan, has been the program’s director of volleyball operations the past few seasons and niece Molly Kreklow is the team’s star setter.
While the risks of having a spouse in the same workplace run high, Wayne Kreklow has proven to skeptics the situation can work and pay off both on and off the court.
“When we first started doing this in 2000 at MU, there were only a few husband-wife coaching combinations in the country, and I think what happened over the years is that people saw what we did and how it can work, which made other administrators at other schools look into it and see how it really is a nice dynamic,” he said. “Instead of being speared off, the husband-wife combination is more of a plus than a minus.”
The Kreklows began working together years before they took over the Tiger program. They co-coached at Columbia College in the ‘90s before they came across town to Missouri in 2000. It was actually Susan Kreklow who took the Tigers’ coaching job before the two decided to reverse roles and make Wayne Kreklow head coach and Susan director of operations.
Kreklow said he thinks the greatest advantage of having his wife working with him is the ability to be in a job-like atmosphere everyday and be able to use the relationship he has with his wife to make the program the best it can be.
“She knows what I want, and I know what she wants and sometimes we can say things to each other that you wouldn’t say to someone you work with in an office setting,” he said. “I think because of that, we save a lot of time when working on things because we’re able to do things like that.”
Despite the success working with his spouse has brought him, Wayne Kreklow does admit there are some down sides to the situation.
“The main thing is that you never really escape work in the sense,” he said. “You never really can get away from it because there’s always something that comes up that makes it hard to escape from it.”
The Tigers had a respectable record their first year in the Southeastern Conference, going 19-12 overall with a 10-10 conference record. Although football and baseball have dominated the adjusting to the SEC conversation, the Drake alumnus and one-time Boston Celtic admits there were surprises the Tigers had to deal with during their first year in the conference.
“I think the biggest thing was travel,” Wayne Kreklow said. “There were a lot of unknowns in terms of travel arrangements, where to fly into, what gym to go to and things of the sort that were definitely adjustments and definitely impacted the team at times.” Playing in the SEC has had its advantages for the program, Wayne Kreklow said. The Tigers’ opponents in other sports, such as football, have helped sell the program in their new conference.
“I think all of the SEC schools are in nice college towns, which helps,” he said. “And when you’re able to tell a player that Alabama or Auburn is coming to town, it really helps sell the program.”
The Tigers return all six starters from last season and boast an impressive freshmen class to add to their veteran roster. While Kreklow is excited about the upcoming season and what the Tigers can potentially accomplish, he’s keeping things in perspective.
“I’m excited for next season, but I try not to get too excited. I like to say I’m cautiously optimistic. We’re returning all of our starters and have some talented young kids coming in. I think we have a chance to be really good. The key for us will be how our freshman can fit into everything and how quickly they adjust to the college game.”