Photo by Paul Flessland
After setting up success on the court as both a teammate and coach, Fargo-Moorhead local Becky Schulze made the ambitious career move from head volleyball and softball coach at Minnesota State University Moorhead to the fast-paced world of computer software and information technology.
This senior technical implementation specialist, working remotely for IBM may have left the Bison before graduation, but that doesn’t mean Schulze hasn’t made a name for herself within the Herd. As a graduate of Minneapolis Roosevelt High School, she has flourished in the community, giving back and celebrating relationships, like marrying her partner of 27 years in 2014.
Becky’s Volleyball Timeline
Minneapolis Roosevelt High School
(Class of 1986)
- Two-time all-conference performer in volleyball, basketball and softball
- Received the St. Paul Pioneer Press Athena Award as a senior
- Three-year starter at setter playing for Donna Palivec, Jolyn Koppinger Montgomery and Cathy Olson George
- Set single-season school record with 1,761 assists (1988)
- On the all-time charts, ranks 2nd in service aces (238) and 7th in assists (3,411)
- Played on two NCC championship teams
- Holds school record for 20 service aces in NCAA tournament play (1986-89)
- Bison Athletic Hall of Fame inductee in 2009
Minnesota State Moorhead
(Class of 1991)
- Bachelor’s degree in sociology
- Master’s degree in computer information systems
- Head coach of volleyball (1991-94) and softball (1993-94)
- 1994 team set school records with 39 wins including 13 consecutive victories
Bison Illustrated: When did you start playing volleyball?
Becky Schulze: I didn’t start playing volleyball until 10th grade in gym class. To be honest, I didn’t even know what it was, and after class, he’s (the teacher) like “Do you like volleyball? I think you should come out.” That summer before my sophomore year there were players on the team that continually reached out to me. I had developed relationships with the players and they convinced me to join. It’s just a great team sport and I had a really great high school coach who made it fun.
A group of our players desperately wanted to go to state, that was just our goal, so we were looking for what else we could do and we decided to go to this camp in the cities. I happened to be on Donna’s [Palivec] team, so that’s where our first interaction was, and then she recruited me to NDSU from there.
When I graduated from high school there were people I had never even seen or heard of in my class, so coming to NDSU in Fargo was a bit different. I don’t think that was really a consideration as far as if the school was big or small, honestly it was just meeting Donna and learning about her program and meeting the players, anything beyond that didn’t really matter.
BI: You became the head coach at MSUM for four years after your playing days were over. What influenced your career move into the technology and business world?
BS: Part of it was I was just burned out a little bit, and I had a strong desire to pursue something outside of that arena. I had become extremely interested in technology and so I pursued that avenue. I was also looking more toward the future because I couldn’t see myself as a head coach in the future. So I wouldn’t say that it concerned me, but that made me question myself because I definitely know the effort, determination and passion it takes. It was probably the passion that really made me start to wonder.
Do I miss it? Yes of course, it was certainly nice to have a break, but I don’t regret any of it. I loved every minute of it and at least I went out being relatively happy about the success and opportunity I had and I was still involved with volleyball for a little bit at the JO (Junior Olympic) level and stuff.
I foresaw a career in technology because it was ever-changing and there was always going to be the possibility of continually learning new technologies and applying that. I felt that would be extremely marketable as well and provide some stability, which has definitely held true.
BI: Was it hard to adjust going from coaching to your present career?
BS: Coaching and the business world are different environments, but you’re still working with people trying to achieve a goal. Initially, when I started working remotely, it was a challenge and a change because I’m relatively quiet and just work hard and probably lead more by example more than anything. Today, it’s become very much the norm, so I think people have adapted to that type of change.
Nothing will ever replace face-to-face, whether it’s with teammates or a client, you can see reactions and talk things out. Working remotely I had to learn to be outgoing and make my voice heard. It was definitely a challenge and a change, a good change though, because it forced me to work on things that weren’t my best.
BI: How do you give back to the community?
BS: I have a golden retriever, Casey, who I had certified—we don’t do it anymore because she’s getting older—by Pet Partners Program and what we would do is go to Eventide’s memory care unit and visit everyone and live right there in the moment. Animals are so relaxing for them, and Casey would just walk around and people would pet her and talk. It’s very interesting because most of them seemed to have grown up on a farm and had pets and always remember their dog.
She’s older and I found that even though she was still really good, usually our sessions would go for about an hour and that’s a long time for dog to be very calm and do their job, I noticed she was getting tired and I wasn’t sure if she was enjoying it as much as I felt she should.
We eased back on some of those activities so now she’s retired. It was really an eye-opener though because there were so many different request that would come in. We worked with the library and kids would sign up for a time to come in and read to the dog without any judgment. The other thing too was kids that were afraid of dogs and just learning how to approach them and show them that not all dogs are scary.
WHAT THEY SAID
Julie (Sherman) Pasche – Teammate
“She and I worked-out together the summer between my freshman and sophomore year. That made all of the difference in my career. She taught me how to work-out harder than I had ever thought possible.
“On the court, she was pretty quiet, she led by example. No one played harder than she did, and nobody was more intense. But she did this without blaming others for bad plays or bad games. It truly was a great experience to learn from and play on the same team as her. Becky has reinvented herself since her time at NDSU. She started her career as a very successful coach at Moorhead State (MSUM). Identifying that was not a long-term career path for her, she went back to school and has worked in IT.”
Brenda (Schultz) Foti – Teammate
“I was very excited to be reunited at our (Bison Athletic Hall of Fame) induction.
“What I remember most about Becky was her ability to compete and her passion for the game. Her excitement when I had a kill was clear in her emotions on the court. Everyone always sees the end kill, but sometimes forget that there were a pass and a set that usually came before it. I have always tried to give Becky credit because, without her and the other setters that I had, I would not have had success nor would our team. Volleyball is a true team sport.”