Posted on 21 October 2014.
Without even realizing it, Wildcats Head Volleyball Coach Candace Moats brought home her 700th career win Oct. 7 against Mt. Vernon Nazarene University.
In previous years, her assistant coaches kept track of her record, but this year she had no idea the game was a landmark win.
“I came to the office later that day and someone tells me congratulations for 700, and I said, ‘700 what?’” Moats said.
Kelly Cypher (jr) said Moats is more focused on her players than she is her own record.
“She isn’t just about the wins we get or the stats of the game,” Cypher said. “What she wants more than anything, is to be invested in each one of us as her players to help us grow as a person in our character and our walk with the Lord.”
Photo taken by Jared Johnson
At her first college, the University of Nebraska, she struggled to find her own identity outside of volleyball. She transferred to Crown College, a Christian college, and carries that experience over to coaching and supporting her players.
“I just try to live as a woman of God would live in front of the girls that he gives me to mentor and in some ways be accountable for,” Moats said.
“She really wants to know who we are outside of volleyball,” Cypher said. “As we go through the volleyball season, she reminds us of the bigger picture of why we play: ‘For Him.’”
Moats had not planned to go into coaching. She was prepared to go into elementary education, but, as she states, that was not God’s plan for her. She helped coach her final semester at Crown since she was ineligible as a transfer student. When the head coaching position opened up after that semester, the current head coach recommended her for the job.
After 10 years coaching at Crown, she felt God “nudging” her to go. After attending Crown herself, she had built a strong support system of family and mentors, which made leaving difficult.
“I didn’t really want to [leave] because I was very comfortable there,” Moats said. “Through a lot of fasting and praying over a course of time God made it very clear that I was supposed to go.”
Moats said God provided her with a specific Bible passage, Genesis 12, to strengthen her during this time of decision-making.
“He’s talking to Abraham and says, ‘I want you to go to the land that I will show you and I will make your name great and I will bless you,’” Moats said.
Moats said she sees that blessing all around her, even now at Indiana Wesleyan University.
“I look back at the years and, even this year, we have squeaked by so many matches that could have put us in a situation and we wouldn’t be where we are,” Moats said. “But again, there is this blessing that just seems to be there and I am so grateful for that.”
Photo taken by Jared Johnson
Moats spent 8 years coaching at Grace College before being called to IWU, where she has been for the past 13 years. She tries to focus on growth and bringing new ideas to the team rather than how many more years she will coach.
“I’m just trying to enjoy this more and more every year instead of fighting it,” Moats said.
Moats said her assistant coaches, players and even other teams give her new ideas and coaching strategies.
“Every year I’m thinking differently,” Moats said. She doesn’t want the team to feel like a “dictatorship.” Instead, she tries to build community through teamwork and collaboration.
Student manager Cindy Coats (sr) said she has enjoyed learning from Coach Moats.
“[It] has been such an honor because she is always so humble as a coach,” Coats said. “She always gives glory to God and praises her team.”
Moats said the relationships she has built over the years have “impacted” her, “shaped” her and made her different.
“The highlight for me is all that I’ve learned by being in relationship with all of the women that I’ve been able to be a part of their lives,” Moats said.
Moats said she hopes IWU will be one of the final schools she works at before retirement. She credits the strength and vision of the Athletic Department with the joy she receives from working at IWU.
“God’s created this opportunity, this career, this calling for me and I need to be faithful in it till the end,” Moats said.
A timeline of Coach Moats’ career from Crown College to win number 700.