Former ASU women's volleyball standout transitions to assistant coach

Macey Gardner (2012-15) acquired numerous records before returning as an assistant coach

Macey Gardner began her volleyball career in Arizona. A product of Gilbert High School, Gardner led her team to a 2011 AIA Division I State Championship before arriving at ASU to begin her legacy as a Sun Devil.

At ASU, Gardner tallied various records during her tenure. She's the 17th Sun Devil to record 1,000 career digs, the program record holder for career kills with 1,882 and a three-time selection for the Pac-12 All-Conference team, the only ASU player to do so since Christine Garner (1992-95).

Gardner’s playing career was halted after suffering a career-ending injury, but that wasn't  the end of her story with the Sun Devils.

In May 2017, head coach Sanja Tomasevic announced that the former Sun Devil standout would be joining the coaching staff as an assistant coach. This new chapter in Gardner’s life would prove to be a difficult but rewarding one.

“This is my dream job. If I could do this for 10, 15, 20 years, I would, and so the best thing about it is the opportunity of it all,” Gardner said. “I’m 24 years old and I'm coaching in a Pac-12 school and even to myself, I think that's crazy.”

Gardner said the opportunity was all thanks to the ASU administration and Tomasevic for taking a chance on her. 

One of the reasons Tomasevic brought in Gardner was because of her ability to relate to the team, considering that her playing career recently ended. 

Interim head coach Carlos Moreno said Gardner has accepted that role well.

“She relates well with the players but she knows her role,” Moreno said. “They respect her so much, but then at the same time, she's so young and she relates so well with the players. She is that bridge between the players and the staff.” 

Moreno said he believes Gardner also sets a great example for the rest of the team.

Noah Lau
Graphic published on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017.

“She wants to be excellent in everything,” Moreno said. “I think she is a great example not only as the great volleyball player she was, but also as a great example in everything she does. So I think the player she was reflected on her search for excellence.”

Moreno said what Gardner has done for the program is amazing and her leadership is priceless.

Senior libero Halle Harker agreed that Gardner does a great job relating to the team. Harker is one of two players on the current roster (with senior libero Blair Robalin) that had the opportunity to compete with Gardner during her playing career.

Harker said it’s no surprise that Gardner has had such a smooth transition from player to coach.

“When she was a player, she was a super special player,” Harker said. “You always kind of looked at her as a role model.”

Prior to the season, Robalin and Harker were both nervous and curious to see how this would play out. 

“We were like, 'We don't know how she’s gonna be,'” Harker said. “But it's been so natural and there really hasn't had to be any type of transition, because like I said ... she was so different and she was so special that we always kind of had that respect level for her.”

Gardner said the hardest thing she has faced is making sure she doesn’t go too far with the relationship she has with the players. 

“These girls are awesome, and I want to be there and relate to them and be the best that I can be for them, but at the same time making sure no lines are crossed and that they understand I’m still a coach and there's expectations and standards to be met,” Gardner said. “But I've had a good time doing it and if they have issues or they're working through stuff, I hope I'm a person they can come to, and I think they have.”

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