ANNA MARIA – For over 14 years, Evelyn Long has brought her knowledge and love of the game, experience as a player and talents as a coach to youth volleyball.
Coaching in Tampa, Florida to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Long and her amazing sisters improved the skills of nearly two dozen players during the last week of summer camp at The Center of Anna Maria Island.
Playing volleyball with her sisters since elementary school, Long played in high school for her older sister, Cindy Stenberg, at Cambridge Christian School. Coach Stenberg, an All-American setter, set the bar for her sisters in the world of volleyball.
Among her many accomplishments and accolades during her volleyball career, both as a player and a coach, Long was the 2005 Rose Diaz Award Recipient and was the 2004-05 Florida All State Setter. The Hillsborough County Volleyball Officials Association gives the Rose Diaz Award to a player who exemplifies sportsmanship and leadership each year.
As a setter, Long played with her younger sister, Peggy Smith, for a year in high school and at Clearwater Christian College for two years. Smith, a right-side hitter, was later coached by Long at Lancaster Bible College.
“It was so amazing to share a bond on and off the court,” Long said. The bond continues as Long plays alongside Smith, including at The Center.
“We have a natural rhythm and flow because of our years playing together,” Long said.
Long has never had to play against any of her sisters during her long and successful volleyball career.
Her coaching career began when she was 19 years old. Long coached for Club Ignite in Brevard County and has continued coaching at all levels.
Long was named Northeastern Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2013.
Coaching for club volleyball teams, Long later coached alongside her sister, Katy Roadman. Keeping the family ties strong, Roadman and Christy Raulerson, Long’s oldest sister, both support the Inspiration Academy volleyball program as assistant coaches with Head Coach Long.
Long started the Inspiration Academy girls volleyball program.
This summer, Long and her assistant coaches conducted the four-day volleyball camp for The Center. With her sisters, Roadman and Raulerson, Long was joined by niece and Blake High School volleyball player Chloe Stenberg, who shared her experience and knowledge as an active competitive player.
The camp gave girls who attend Anna Maria Elementary School and King Middle School a chance to meet new players. Long’s reputation as a strong coach drew players from Inspiration Academy to the Island, as well as several players who are home-schooled.
The highlight of the camp for Long was seeing players support the accomplishments of others.
“I know I find a lot of joy in seeing new players progress and learn the sport, but it brought even greater joy to see one of my players find that same excitement,” she said.
For Long, the most important accomplishment in volleyball is “… seeing former players take what they have learned from the sport of volleyball and apply these principles of hard work, humility and team effort into their personal lives.”
The Center and Long plan to continue to bring the volleyball specialty camp to the summer program, as well as conduct high school volleyball clinics for higher-level players.
The future for Long includes building the volleyball program at Inspiration Academy after taking a hiatus to grow her family and help with the family business, Solid Rock Construction.
The next generation of volleyball players in the family is being nurtured now that Long is coaching her daughter, Estella.
Returning to coaching also allowed Long to reunite with her sisters in volleyball.
“Katy… lends me so much help,” she said. “She has many years of coaching experience in various capacities from club to high school. I truly couldn’t do it alone and love coaching alongside her and Christy.”
Long and her sisters continue to play volleyball together.
“Our love for Jesus, family and volleyball truly binds us together as sisters,” Long said.