Sawatzki making her mark in the men’s game
Sawatzki has been charged with guiding the Austrian team as far as she can, having already exceeded expectations just by qualifying for the tournament in Laktasi, Bosnia and Herzegovina. While her presence on the sidelines has been welcomed, it has occasionally caused confusion.
“I have been in this situation for five years,” Sawatzki said. “It has happened more than once that at a match the secretary would walk over to my male assistant coach to ask for the signature assuming that he is the head coach.
“It could be a problem being a female head coach for boys, but I first started as an assistant coach of the team, so it happened naturally and worked out well. It is really not a problem.”
There is little doubt that Sawatzki has much to teach her charges. As a player she was a setter in the USSR team in the 1970’s. Under her maiden name of Muradian, the Armenian-born player won a silver medal at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games, a bronze at the 1978 FIVB World Championships and gold at the European Championships. Her club career was no less successful and she twice won the USSR Championship with Dinamo Moscow.
In the 1980s she moved to play in West Germany, won another national championship, met her husband and has remained there since. Five years ago she accepted a job offer from the Volleyball Academy in Vienna and from there moved up to the ranks to her present position.
Having worked with the Austrian Federation for a number of years, she is confident that the success they have enjoyed in reaching the Boys’ European Championship can be carried on.
”Our success is a proof of the good work we are doing at the Volleyball Academies in Vienna and Graz. It is the second time we have qualified for the Finals of a Boys’ Youth European Championship with me as a coach for an overall third participation for the team of Austria. This raises the bar for the players and they need to be at higher and higher level if they want to make it on the team.
“The volleyball family in Austria is small and everybody knows what we do here. Better performance from us here also helps our federation in securing financing of our programs.”