Former Williamsburg Area High School sports standout Christian Appleman already had a unique bond with his future wife, Erin, before the couple first met at Penn State University about 15 years ago.
Christian was then an assistant coach with Penn State's men's basketball team, and Erin was an assistant coach with the Penn State women's volleyball program.
"We shared similar interests,'' Christian said. "We could really relate to each other because coaching was such an important part of both of our lives.''
It still is. Christian is now an assistant men's tennis coach and head of the tennis facility at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., where Erin has been the school's head women's volleyball coach for nine seasons. The couple, both 45, are the parents of two children - son Justin, 11, and daughter Emma, 9.
Erin Appleman will lead Yale (18-5 this season) into the first round of the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championships, and a 5 p.m. matchup today against Bowling Green at Penn State's Rec Hall. Defending national champion Penn State meets Binghamton University at 7:30 p.m. today.
Should Yale survive the first round, it will advance to Saturday's second round and a probable matchup with Penn State. Penn State is the top seed in the West Lafayette (Ind.) Regional, while Yale is the ninth seed.
"I'd be honored to play Penn State,'' Erin Appleman said. "But our focus right now is on Bowling Green. They were the Mid-Atlantic Conference Tournament champions this year, and that's a very good volleyball conference.''
This marks the fourth appearance for Yale in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championships under the direction of Erin Appleman - a California native and graduate of San Diego State University. Her Yale teams in 2004 and 2008 won one game apiece. Last year's squad lost an opening-round matchup with the University of Southern California.
'This year's team has some great chemistry,'' she said. "We went 14-0 in our [Ivy League] conference, which is an extremely difficult feat to accomplish. We're still pretty young, with only one senior on this year's team. I'm really proud of how these girls have played. They've showed focus and determination all year.''