Surprise: AHS volleyball team shows up to head coach’s Hall of Fame induction

Published 7:28 pm Friday, October 18, 2019

Austin head volleyball coach Lauren Cost doesn’t usually get emotional in front of her team, but that all changed when they gave her a surprise that she will never forget.

Cost was just asking for some fashion advice from her team on a bus ride home from Worthington when she ignited a plan that eventually brought her to tears in front of her team.

“She asked us what kind of dress would go with purple heels and we asked her what she was doing that was so formal,” Austin senior Erica Lundberg said. “She told us she was being inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and we kind of made our plan (to go to Cost’s ceremony) on the bus that night.”

The Austin volleyball team recently surprised Austin head volleyball coach Lauren Cost during her induction into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. Photo provided

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The plan of the Austin volleyball team surprising their coach in Kansas started to become more real when they found out Leslie Rodriguez’s father had a 12-person van for his work that they could borrow and that Kyra Walter’s mother agreed to drive a bus full of nine teenage girls for a weekend round trip that eclipsed 1,000 miles. Austin assistant coach Mandy Leopold also agreed to come along for the ride.

Once the plan was in place, the Packers had to make sure Cost didn’t find out about the surprise.

“We all wanted to tell her so bad that we had planned all of this out, because she didn’t think it was going to happen,” Kyra said. “To actually make it happen was crazy. It was so hard to come to practice and not ask her about it.”

The trip included a Saturday night stop at the home of Walter’s brother in Kansas City where the team played laser tag, listened to music, and created many memories that will last them for their rest of their lives.

“That trip was so much fun,” Austin senior AJ Richard said. “Us girls got so close and I love them more now. It was definitely the trip of a lifetime. It’s something I’ll remember for a long time.”

Austin head volleyball coach Lauren Cost reacts to her team suprising her during her indcuction into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in Event Center Ballroom at the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, Kansas recently. Photo provided

The trip culminated on Oct. 6, at the Kansas Star Casino near Wichita, where Cost was inducted into the KSHOF. Cost, who is already a member of the Kansas State University Hall of Fame, was a first-team All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year in her playing days.

She thought the only Austin resident she would see at the induction would be her husband, but Cost was in for a big surprise when her team approached her.

“It was amazing (to see them) and it meant everything. It was awesome,” Cost said. “It took a lot of planning on their part and a lot of sacrifices. It was incredible. Their intensity on the court is amazing and they’re just wonderful, young ladies. I’m excited about the seniors and their future and I’m so happy that I get to keep the ones that will be back next year.”

Lundberg said the team has learned many things from Cost over the past two years and they felt great to be able to show her how much they appreciated her help.

“When we saw her, she started crying and it was really sweet. That was the first time I’ve ever seen her cry,” Lundberg said. “It was awesome. It was honestly one of the best memories I’ve ever had with a team. I know that we’ll never forget it and I don’t think (Cost) will ever forget it. It really helped us with team bonding.

Austin senior Jordyn McCormack echoed Lundberg’s sentiments.

“We wanted to give back for all of the things she does for us,” McCormack said. “We were all super excited to just be there for her, and then to go see her go up and talk in front of a bunch of other big time athletes kind of shows how good she actually was. We don’t usually see her in a spotlight as a player, so that was cool.”

Cost has led the Packers to their best season in a decade this fall and the Packers are 17-34 in her two years in charge. Austin went 15-92 in its previous four seasons combined. The Packers also had 74 girls out for volleyball this season.

Austin senior Avery Thompson is hoping to play college softball after high school, but now she’s considering playing college volleyball as well, due partly to Cost’s influence.

“She’s done so much for us and she’s invested so much of her time,” Thompson said. “It was so nice for us just to give back a little bit for a weekend. We were able to see what someone can accomplish in their life, if they work hard.”

Kyra said Cost has helped her gain an appreciation for a sport that she nearly gave up at one time.

“I think we all have a love for her and we all have an extra strong passion for volleyball because of her,” Kyra said. “She’s made it such a fun sport for all of us. There was a time where I didn’t want to play volleyball for awhile, but every day is a new thing with her and it’s one of my favorite sports now.”

Cost has helped start youth volleyball and offseason volleyball in Austin and she’s determined to see the sport grow in the future.

“We want to start at least where we finished the last year, if not a little bit ahead of that, each year,” Cost said.

The Austin volleyball team recently surprised Austin head volleyball coach Lauren Cost during her induction into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. Photo provided