Volleyball community mourns the loss of player, coach, friend Tracey Marshall

Tracey Marshall, pictured with one of the teams she coached at Sports Performance, passed away Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Sports Performance).

Former Plainfield North and Hinsdale Central volleyball coach Tracey Marshall passed away Thursday. She was 42.

No further details about the cause of death are available.

Marshall was Plainfield North’s girls head coach from 2010-2017, winning three Class 4A regional titles and a sectional title in 2015. She was also the boys’ volleyball head coach for four seasons before taking the head girls position at Hinsdale Central in 2018.

A graduate of Downers Grove South where she was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame, Marshall played at the University of Illinois from 1996-1999. She also played professionally before moving on to the high school and club coaching ranks.

Sports Performance Volleyball Club, where Marshall played and later coached, released the following statement on Twitter.

“’Heartbroken’ would be an understatement to describe our grief and sadness at the loss of this beautiful human being. Tracey Marshall, we love you and will never forget you. Your loyalty, your courage, your compassion and your never ending fight for fairness for all, should be the example that we all live on a daily basis.

“As a player, you were the ultimate warrior. Your relentless drive to be great always started with the extremely high standards that you held yourself to. We ask that God grants you eternal peace and we send our prayers to your family and your loved ones during this most difficult time.”

Matt Slechta, who served as Marshall’s assistant at Plainfield North before becoming head girls coach in 2018, credited Marshall for helping him become a better person and coach.

“I had the privilege of being able to know, learn from and coach alongside Tracey since I started coaching club,” Slechta said. “She knew right away that I was fairly new to coaching and immediately became a great mentor, making sure I was doing OK and always making sure I was learning from every experience.

“Over the past seven years, Tracey was always there when needed to talk volleyball or just talk about life,” he added. “Every conversation I had with Tracey always began and ended with making sure life was treating me well, and there was a little volleyball talk in between.”

Slechta said that Marshall always emphasized that teaching student-athletes to be good people outweighed training good players.

“She always made sure that I understood that as a coach, the most important accomplishment is making sure we teach our players the meaning of being good human beings — being polite, kind, generous — and teaching the sport always came second,” he said.

“When she was coaching, her intensity and love for the game was easily seen. Off the court, she was the kindest person I have ever known. She would put everything on hold just to make sure you were doing OK.

“I am really going to miss Tracey, and I am forever grateful for everything she has ever done for me and all the players and coaches she has worked with,” Slechta said. “I would not be the person I am today without her friendship and guidance.”

Former Downers Grove South girls volleyball coach and current Downers Grove North athletic director Denise Kanavaugh, for whom Marshall played for two years and who gave Marshall her first coaching job, posted this on Twitter.

“Devastated on the loss of athlete, all American, HOF, mentor, teacher, coach and friend Tracey Marshall. Heaven needed a strong Angel for the call up … continue shining your light.”

Marshall was named the head girls coach at Hinsdale Central in August 2018, and this past fall led the Red Devils to a regional championship match.

Marshall also coached with Prime Time, First Alliance and Club Elite. At Illinois, Marshall established the record for career digs (1,426), which stood until 2008. The 1998 All-Big Ten Conference player ranks fourth in career digs and seventh in career kills (1,657).

Most recently, Marshall served as principal at the Naperville Bridge Day School, a non-public educational program designed to serve up to 30 youth, ages 14-21 (grades 9-12), who have a primary eligibility of emotionally disabled, behavior disordered or other health impaired, and may have a secondary eligibility established due to a learning disability.

This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

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