Friday, July 27, 2012


“Hilarious!”  It’s a word heard often from Terri Boumans.  Always emphasized and usually accompanied by gestures, “hilarious” is Terri’s signature phrase.  She’s likely to pantomime the latest stunt by one of her kids.  She may twirl her arms as she describes what she considers her less than graceful moves at the local Y’s Bodyjam fitness class.   Her humor reflects her humility.  Terri readily recounts smacking into a glass panel the day she met her husband, but downplays the fact that the panel was in the Olympic Training Center and she was there as an elite athlete.  When opening her own volleyball gym for training high-level players, Terri set humor aside and turned to a different word to capture her intent:  mettle.   Mettle Volleyball opened June 2012 and is located behind the Naperville YMCA Fieldhouse.  Terri’s new venture requires both the courage and fortitude suggested by her gym's name.  She’s pregnant, due in December with her fifth baby, and will continue to home educate as she builds her business.

Home educating and opening the gym both grew out of Terri’s devotion to her kids.  After a few years as an at-home mom, Terri felt God leading her to contribute to the financial well-being of her family.  She prayed for the right opportunities.  They included running two part-time volleyball programs at other facilities and coaching summer volleyball camps.  An offhand comment by her husband as he signed the lease for his own wrestling gym led the landlord to show Terri a vacant building around the corner, perfect for her own volleyball gym.  Terri’s coaching incorporates the full range of her experience: the only collegiate player in Big Ten history to achieve more than 1,500 kills, 1,000 digs and 600 blocks, four year team member of the U.S.A. National Volleyball Team, and team captain of the Chicago Thunder in the U.S.A. Professional Volleyball League during the 2001-02 season.

While her middle and highschool-aged players flourished under her coaching, it added stress for her own kids.  Terri would wait in the driveway with the car running for her boys to be dropped off from school.  She would dash off to coach for a few hours then single-handedly get her kids fed, bathed and to bed while her husband Kerry, a former U.S.A. National Team wrestler, continued evening work at his own gym.   Having more family time together is the main reason Terri and Kerry chose to home educate.  Kerry can linger in the morning before heading to his wrestling facility.  Sometimes he takes the kids in with him.  Terri plans their home schooling day according to when she has to leave for her volleyball classes.  She spends the bulk of her day with her children and appreciates the more relaxed pace.  Settling into her third year of home educating, Terri agonizes less now about “doing it wrong” and enjoys the simple pleasure of a rest hour with the kids before she heads out to coach.

The Boumans want a solid Catholic education for their kids.  Her two older boys, now 9 and 11-years-old, attended Catholic school prior to home schooling.  Terri chose Mother of Divine Grace curriculum on recommendation from another mom who also had a large family and ran her own business.  “I love that the entire syllabus for each student is right there,” Terri comments, “and I don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”  The one-on-one time benefitted her children.  One son rose from a C average to an A average in math.  She noticed an increase in her kids’ sharing their spiritual thoughts too.  “Since we are all reading the same thing, usually out loud,” Terri explains, “our conversations can be surprisingly deep considering how young my kids are.”  Like many home educating moms, Terri worries about gaps in her kids' education.  She plans to farm out art and music, areas with which she has little experience.  Terri admits that she finds working easier than staying at home, but asserts that easy is not the goal.  Still, she views her coaching as a “joyful break” from the monotony that can come with being at home with little ones—her daughters are just 4 and 6-years-old--especially during the long Chicago winters.

Home educating can provide other “joyful breaks.”  After particularly busy volleyball and schooling times, Terri enjoys the flexibility to take short vacations during weekdays when other kids would normally be in school.  This past winter, her kids learned to ski on nearly empty slopes during just such a get-away.  Humor once again creeps in as Terri describes her boys’ first terrified ride together on the chair lift.   She recreates the scene, somehow using her 6’2” frame to convincingly play-act a little boy peering over an edge from seemingly great height, gaze sweeping side-to-side, eyes growing wider and mumbling the Catholic act of contrition.

Terri and Kerry rise before 6 a.m., praying together to start their day.  When asked what advice she’d give to another mom seeking to both home educate and bring in an income, Terri counsels prayer.  “Make sure it is God’s will,” she cautions, “or it may not work.  Relax and know that God is in control.   He will let you know what you need to do.”  With Mettle Volleyball being new, it’s difficult for Terri to forecast her income for the next year.  She knows she will need evening care for her newborn after January.  She asked God to figure out what seemed impossible to her--to have her baby in wonderful family care during those hours and to arrange that for free.  Bartering volleyball lessons for childcare with a family she knows and trusts provided the solution. 

 Terri understands that the perfect solution may not always appear quickly in answer to her prayers.  As she and her kids clean the gym, she talks to them about living in faith, taking the next step and trusting God with the outcome.  As her business and her family continue to grow, one suspects that stories from Terri, accompanied by her signature motion as communication, will grow too.  No doubt they will be hilarious. 

For more information on Mettle Volleyball's Little Diggers program (grades 3-7) and Volleyball classes (grades 6-12), or for private lessons with Terri, please visit Mettle Volleyball's website.  

World English Dictionary

mettle(ˈmɛt ə l) 

- n
1. courage; spirit
2. inherent character
3. on one's mettle roused to putting forth one's best efforts