In 1991, a young coach roamed the halls of Brainerd Community College, trying to recruit athletes for the Raiders' volleyball team.
Eventually eight women joined and that team made a trip to the state tournament.
It was the first season for head coach Jane Peterson, who picked up her 400th win as head coach of the Central Lakes College volleyball program with a sweep of Anoka-Ramsey on Sept. 15.
One of the few memories Peterson said she still has from those humble beginnings was her team's first home game in which they took the first two games before dropping the final three.
"It was a match we should have won," she said. "After the game the opposing coach came over and said to me and the team that we were the best team she had seen in Brainerd in a long time. I said, 'Thank you very much, and then I turned to my team and said, I hope that means nothing to you. We lost a match we should have won.'"
Central Lakes College volleyball coach Jane Peterson, who picked up her 400th win as head coach of the Raiders in a sweep of Anoka-Ramsey on Sept. 15, instructed members of the Brainerd freshmen team Wednesday at Riverside Elementary School. Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood » Purchase reprints of this photo.
It's this winning attitude and level of expectation that Peterson has continually instilled into a program that has seen great success, particularly over the past 6 1/2 seasons.
Overall the program's record since Peterson's arrival sits at 404-161 (.715). Since the 2003 season, CLC is at .828. And since the 2005 season, the Raiders have posted a remarkable 82-9 mark (.901).
During Peterson's tenure, the program has had players named to All-American status on 15 separate occasions, 11 since 2000.
But, after finishing third at nationals in four consecutive seasons (2003-06), Peterson said the strategy for the 2007 season is a bit different.
"This year's team will be asked to have one of the toughest schedules of any team I've ever coached," she said. "Why not have a challenge? When you come in third four years in a row you begin to wonder what you can do differently.
"Third is good. But third is third, it's not first. So the question is, 'How can you make it past that?' One way I said is, 'We're going to lose more games next year.' We got to play some people that will make us understand that we need to be better."
As a Division III member of the NJCAA, Peterson's plan for the Raiders has been to match up with the bigger schools in Division I and II, perhaps losing more games but gaining experience in the process.
The Raiders currently sit 13-3 overall, with the three losses already surpassing 2005's total of two and nearing 2006's total of four.
CLC will meet more upper-level competition in the coming weekend tournament at Ridgewater and that is what Peterson, also CLC's athletic director, planned for.
For now, Peterson's focus remains on this season as the number 400 has very little meaning to the head coach in her 17th season.
"It's a number. It's just a number," she said. "It's not the reason that I do it and it's not the reason people play games so they can remember how many they won."
TY RUSHMEYER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5865.
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