High School Sports

Prep volleyball: Tacoma sisters played together, now rival coaches

There’s something instantly familiar about the coaches guiding their players on opposing sides of the gym. It isn’t that they’re both decked out in pink – one in a tutu, the other in a hand-decorated T-shirt.

It’s the voices, the mannerisms – and the fact that they are sisters.

On Thursday, Mount Tahoma’s Rhonda Stinson and Foss’ Rochelle Rosario faced each other for the first time as head volleyball coaches.

“It’s a rivalry, but it’s also a friendship,” said Rosario, who is in her second season with the Falcons. “It’s not just about the competitiveness.”

The sisters, 18 months apart, even give each other coaching tips – to a point.

“Not when we play each other,” said Stinson, who is in her first year coaching at their alma mater.

Rosario coached Mount Tahoma’s C-Team for a decade before leaving for Foss in 2013.

“I was like, I don’t know how this is going to go; it’s always been family,” she said. “But the connection with the girls was so strong and fast that I knew this is where I need to be.”

Stinson said it was a “dream come true” to come home after 17 years as an assistant coach at Lincoln.

“My heart has always been here,” she said.

The Class 3A Narrows League rivals have scrimmaged together this season.

“It’s working together – me coaching her girls and her coaching mine,” Stinson said.

Their mother, Gayle Rosario, said that she enjoys “every minute” with her daughters. She spent five years with Rosario at Mount Tahoma and now is Stinson’s assistant.

“I think it’s fun to have coaches 35 and up,” she said. “They can show people that (they) can still dominate.”

The duo played for the Thunderbirds together – Rosario graduated in 1994; Stinson, in ’95 – and Tacoma Community College.

Rosario said she is often told that she looks like “this coach at Mount Tahoma.”

“And I’m like ‘really? I don’t know her’,” she joked.

The coaches face similar challenges: neither school draws a huge volleyball turnout, and both have struggled this season. Mount Tahoma is 2-7 overall, while Foss is 1-7.

But neither is particularly fazed.

“I tell my players to not worry what our record is,” Stinson said. “It will take a couple years to build a program.”

Both said being able to coach in their hometown is special.

“I like getting out there and giving back to Tacoma and bringing back the pride,” Rosario said.

It also helps them relate to their players, some of whom are the children of former classmates.

“I think it kind of helps with the next generation because we’re getting old,” Stinson said.

“You’re getting old,” Rosario corrected.

Then they both laughed.