Mandi Roberts

By Elizabeth Oates

Mom | Volleyball Coach | Director

Some people know her as the Hendrix’s daughter, as Brett’s sister, or as the girl whose brothers are The Brett Hendrix Band. But for 150 girls in Waco, she’s Coach Roberts. And she considers that a privilege.

Mandi Hendrix Roberts has spent years coaching volleyball for middle school and high school students, and she applies lessons she learned in athletics both on and off the court. Currently, she serves as director of Waco Juniors Volleyball Club, where she previously coached the teams for 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds. She graduated from Sam Houston State in 2006 and Lamar University in 2010 with a master’s in education administration. She’s a busy wife and mom of two, but still juggles work, family and service with ease.

WACOAN: I see that you have an 817 cellphone number. Are you from the D-FW area?

Roberts: No, I’m actually from Lorena. I went to school K-12 there. I was in Dallas after college and taught there when we first got married and moved back here in 2012.

WACOAN: What grades did you teach?

Roberts: I started teaching in Coppell, and I taught middle school resource language arts, and I always coached wherever I taught. And then I taught at Marcus [High School], which is a part of Lewisville ISD in Flower Mound. I taught high school special ed inclusion (every subject), and I coached volleyball and softball.

When we moved back to Waco, I taught seventh grade science for two years at Midway Middle [School] and coached volleyball, basketball and track. Then I moved to Midway High School, where I co-taught freshman biology and was the varsity volleyball assistant and JV coach.

WACOAN: You’ve taught a variety of things.

Roberts: Yes, a little bit of everything. When I first started teaching, everything I taught was on the special education side of things, and so I’m certified general [education] grades one through eight and then special education K-12, so for middle school and high school students I can pretty much teach anything. And then in a regular setting I can teach anything fourth through eighth [grades].

WACOAN: And where did you go to college?

Roberts: Sam Houston State.

WACOAN: What did you major in there? Was it education?

Roberts: Health education and kinesiology. I originally wanted to do sports recreation stuff, and my professors told me I would be a teacher, and I didn’t believe them. And shortly after graduating, I was a teacher. I did my alternative teacher certification and got my first job in Coppell.

WACOAN: Did you play volleyball in college?

Roberts: I played club volleyball at Sam Houston. I did not play Division 1.

Club volleyball in Waco had not started when I was in school [in Lorena]. When I moved to Dallas, I immediately started coaching club and fell into this world of club volleyball, and it’s this really big thing across the nation and in the metroplex. It is huge. There are so many clubs and so many opportunities for kids to play.

Then when we moved to Waco, Coach [Ryan] Porter at Midway High School — he used to run Waco Juniors, and he’s still one of the directors now — I started coaching for him in club, and he became the high school head coach. When I had my daughter, I did not go back and teach, and I took over the club.

WACOAN: Let’s talk about your kids.

Roberts: I have a son who is 6. He is in first grade at Lorena. I grew up there, and I loved school at Lorena. I went there K-12, and my parents still live there. My brothers went there K-12 as well.

I said I would never move back — that’s why I went to the big city. And shortly after having [my son], Corbin, I was ready to move back to Waco. And my husband was a little bit against it, but we did it, and now he would not move either. We both love being here, and I’m so happy that Corbin is able to be in the Lorena school district.

WACOAN: You mentioned your daughter. How old is she, and what’s her name?

Roberts: Kamryn is 3 — she’ll be 3 on November 10.

WACOAN: Does Corbin play any sports?

Roberts: Yes, Corbin already plays a little bit of everything. His first love is baseball, so we’re constantly at some form of baseball lessons or at D-Bat [indoor baseball and softball training franchise], Little League or whatever we’re doing. But he also plays soccer at H.O.T., and he plays basketball in Lorena through the school. So he has a love for sports, and that probably comes from his sport-loving parents.

WACOAN: Moving back to Waco sounds like it was you wanting to get back to your family and your roots. Was any part of the move because of your husband’s job, or did he have to find a job once you got here?

Roberts: [Jonathon] is in the mortgage business — at that time he was a mortgage broker — so he was able to continue what he was doing. He now works for the Wood Group of Fairway Mortgage, and he’s in Belton. It has just become a second family to him. He has become the sales manager over everything from Waco to Houston to south Austin, so he has a big territory that he’s over, but his home office is in Belton.

WACOAN: Did you meet at Sam Houston State?

Roberts: We did. We met in an accounting class. One semester I thought I would minor in business, and that lasted for a semester. But I met my husband, so it worked out.

Once I graduated, he followed me to Dallas, and we got married shortly after, and we stayed up there until we had our son. I grew up with my grandparents five minutes away, and I wanted the same for our kids. Now we live five minutes from my parents and my grandparents. So my kids get to see all their family, their aunts and uncles, all the time. It’s just super important to us to have that close-knit family and friends that we have here.

WACOAN: You lived in Lorena, then you went away for a while, and then you came back. So obviously Waco changed in that span of time. What is one restaurant or store that is here now in Waco that you love that wasn’t here when you were growing up?

Roberts: I do love that there are so many homegrown stores here. My best friend lives in Houston, and she loves to come to Waco and go to all the fun stores downtown. I love that Waco still has its own identity. There are places you can go in the big city, and it doesn’t have what Waco has.

WACOAN: You mentioned earlier that you moved back here to be closer to your family. What do they do?

Roberts: My two brothers are in The Brett Hendrix Band, which is a Texas country band. They play locally and out of state. My younger brother, Brett, is the lead singer and guitarist. He plays acoustically and writes most of their songs. My middle brother, Chance, is the drummer. My dad runs sound and drives the band when traveling out of town and out of state. They all work full-time jobs and still play almost every weekend.

WACOAN: Did you inherit the same musical talent?

Roberts: I don’t have any musical talent. It’s certainly the family joke!

WACOAN: You are obviously a busy mom, and you work for Waco Juniors. Do you have any time for service or other community involvement?

Roberts: Waco Juniors is a nonprofit, and I do run all of it.

We also go to First Baptist Woodway, and in the summer I was able to volunteer at vacation Bible school, so I like to do anything that has to do with kids.

I am in PTA. I’m room mom in my son’s class last year and this year. And I like serving on any kind of school committee that I can for him because I do miss being in the school atmosphere on a daily basis, teaching. So, you know, pretty much everything I do right now involves kids.

Honestly, when I think back, everything I’ve done has had something to do with youth. I can’t seem to stray away from that at all.

WACOAN: That’s obviously where you’re gifted. Let’s talk about your work with Waco Juniors. Is that a volunteer position or are you employed by the organization?

Roberts: I am employed. I’m the director of Waco Juniors, and I also coach at various clinics and things that we host. So I oversee everything.

We just had our tryouts. We had 180 girls try out this year. We’re going to have 14 teams, ages 12-17, and we are part of the USA Volleyball [Junior Olympic organization]. There are regions across the nation, and we play in club tournaments in our region, so in Texas we’re lucky because we get to stay in state most of the time. But the majority of our tournaments are in Austin, Dallas, Houston. And then our 14-and-up [teams] do travel to one out-of-state tournament a year. We start right after the high school season ends. We just finished tryouts this past weekend, and we’ll start practice after Thanksgiving. This runs all the way through spring, and we finish in May. If any teams qualify for nationals, they play at the end of June.

WACOAN: How many girls make it?

Roberts: I don’t know the exact number we have this year — roughly 10 girls per team, so we’ve got about 140-150 girls. Some teams have 11 or 12. We have three teams in 12-year-olds, 13-year-olds and 14-year-olds, and then we have two teams in 15s, two teams in 16s and one team in 17s.

And for our older kids, this is a big platform to get recruited on. We go to showcase tournaments in the spring that all the college coaches across the country and their assistants go to, and that’s how these kids get recruited. So I play a part in that, emailing the coaches and following NCAA guidelines, being that liaison between the kid and coaches.

For our younger kids it’s all about youth development and getting them ready to play middle school sports, and we have kids who only want to be good for their high school team. So we get a little variety.

We try to help in other ways that we can. We host clinics for kids who can’t afford to play club volleyball or maybe play too many sports. But we do sponsor kids so that, hopefully, money is not an issue. So when there are kids who truly want to play and do make the team, they are able to play.

WACOAN: What do you love most about your work with Waco Juniors?

Roberts: I love the relationships with the coaches, the kids and the parents. We really get to know these kids. We see them a few hours a week and a lot at tournaments in the spring, and it’s fun to see them compete, but also teach them that sports is so much more than just playing a game. You learn how to be competitive in the workforce, and how to accept failure because not everything is always going to be perfect. Everything is not always going to handed to you, and hopefully it’s teaching young ladies that they can be independent and go out confidently when they graduate and be extensions of how their school and their parents are guiding them at home.

WACOAN: Obviously, sports are a huge part of your life and have been for a long time, so what’s one lesson you’ve learned from sports that you want to pass on to Corbin and Kamryn?

Roberts: There’s so many. Mainly, never quit. If you want something bad enough, you just have to keep fighting for what you want. It might take time, but you can do it if you really set your mind to it.

WACOAN: When things slow down, what do you like to do as a family?

Roberts: Watch sports. It’s funny, just for a date night, Jonathon and I would drive down to Austin and go to a volleyball game, or we like to watch professional sports together. But as a family sometimes we just like to be at home. It’s something that we don’t do a lot, but just to go see a movie as a family is fun. I feel like we’re always running in a lot of different directions.

WACOAN: Talk to me about your husband, Jonathon. You have been part of teams for so much of your life. How does teamwork play into your marriage?

Roberts: We have two kids whose personalities are totally different. What works with Corbin doesn’t work with Kamryn, and a lot of that has to do with their ages. Jonathon travels a lot, and I hold down the home front (which is why I quit teaching). When he’s here, he gets to be dad and do things that dads do — be there with his kids and play outside.

I think we’ve just, over the years, found a balance that works for us. No one’s give or take is the same as that of another family. He does as much as he can when he’s home, but I know that when he’s not [home] that he’s providing for us in different ways.

WACOAN: It sounds like you each play your part really well.

Roberts: Yes.

WACOAN: So how do you keep balance amid your busy life?

Roberts: I keep balance with a lot of prayers, my planner and lots of scheduling. Family and friends play a huge role in helping me juggle working evenings and weekends throughout the year. Staying active and working out does a lot for me mentally, and I can tell when I stray away from it. I completed my first sprint triathlon this summer, and it certainly took extra planning to get those longer workouts in, but it felt amazing to finish that race.

The days are much different than they used to be, coming from the education world, where everything about my day was scheduled down to the minute. Some weeks are smooth sailing and others have bumps in the road, but isn’t that just life? I’m very blessed to spend my days doing things I love — being a wife and mom, as well as working with other coaches and athletes in a sport we all enjoy so much.