Trading places: Griffith takes over boys VB program

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Dylan Griffith will replace Rob Kleinschmidt as Middleton’s head boys volleyball coach, while Kleinschmidt will take the top assistant job previously held by Griffith./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

As sports have grown and intensified over the past generation, the offseason can be almost as arduous as the regular season.

For Rob Kleinschmidt, those demands have led to change inside Middleton’s boys volleyball program.

Kleinschmidt, the Cardinals’ head coach since 2020, recently stepped down from that position and will become Middleton’s lead assistant. On the flip side, Dylan Griffith — a 2019 MHS graduate and a four-year assistant with the program — moves from the top assistant position to the Cardinals’ head coach.

“I've been head coach on several different levels and know what is required to be the head coach and leader of a program,” Kleinschmidt said. “It is a lot of work, both in-season and out-of-season. 

“Several life changes since I was hired in 2020 — evolving work status, family changes as our kids grow and move to where their jobs take them, personal loss, those kinds of things — were making it harder for me to fulfill everything I felt was needed to be the best head coach and give the players and program the best chance to achieve to their highest levels. 

“In-season was fine and I had no issues, but new pulls on my time this past off-season were making it harder to do all the things I felt were important to keep the program at its best.”

Kleinschmidt had a terrific three-year run as the Cardinals’ boss, leading Middleton to state twice.

Middleton reached the 2020-2021 alternate fall state tournament, where it advanced to the championship match before falling to Kimberly. The Cardinals fell in the sectional finals in 2021, then reached the state tournament in 2022 where they lost to Waukesha Catholic Memorial in the quarterfinals.

Along the way, Kleinschmidt and the Cardinals were undefeated in the Big Eight Conference. That allowed Middleton to win a 10th straight league title and push its conference winning streak to 88 games.

With the demands of life becoming too much, though, Kleinschmidt felt it was the perfect time to switch roles with Griffith.

“I owe it to the program to help find the right person and situation to keep that excellence growing and moving forward,” Kleinschmidt said. “Dylan is an excellent coach and will be a great head coach. It was the right time. He has the right life situation to take over and excel, and filling the role I now have helps me be in the right spot to offer my best for the program.”

Griffith has been giving his best to the program for years now. And that’s why many believe he’ll be a natural as Middleton’s next head coach.

Griffith, who played libero, had a sensational career at MHS, highlighted by a first-team all-state selection in 2018. When Griffith left Middleton, he ranked second in school history in digs (615), 10th in career aces (72) and had the best passing average in school history since rally scoring began (2.25).

Griffith was a four-year starting libero at Edgewood College, as well, where he graduated in May with a degree in Communication Studies. During that time, Griffith coached Middleton’s freshmen team in 2019 and was a varsity assistant the last three seasons.

When Kleinschmidt broached the idea about switching roles, Griffith agreed it made perfect sense.

“With some of the changes that’ve happened in Rob’s life over the past few years it made for some challenges in the offseason for him,” Griffith said. “When we chatted together about moving forward, our conversation showed that we both found the best place for each of us was to switch roles.

“With where we both are in our professional lives it was the best move for us to give our all to the program and the players. I am so excited to continue with the program and we both are committed to giving the program the best chance to achieve at our highest levels.”

High levels is all Middleton’s volleyball program has known for two decades now.

Ben White, who now coaches Middleton’s varsity girls, led the Cardinals’ boys to state 11 times between 2002-2018. Kleinschmidt built onto that legacy, and now Griffith hopes to add even more.

“My goals for this program are pretty simple,” Griffith said. “I hope to continue to build upon the successful culture that has been crafted over the history of our program while also including some pieces of my own. My program and coaching philosophy is built upon the pillars of productive communication, inclusivity, and empowerment — three pieces I believe are of utmost importance in sports and in life.

“I hope to continue our conference success and of course want to help take this program to places that we have yet to accomplish. We’ve got some really talented players in our program and no matter what combination of players we have on the team in the fall, the potential is endless. We’re going to prepare ourselves as best we can to go for that sectional title and beyond. This is certainly no easy task, but our coaches and I are up for the challenge and hope to bring our program to new heights.”


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