West Valley Preps
There is no doubt — Kim Ulrich-Suss is the heartbeat of Deer Valley men’s volleyball.
Her co-coach with the Skyhawks, Eric Palmer, was not about to quietly slip out the door.
Ulrich-Suss is retiring as a counselor and volleyball coach after this spring. She said she runs her own sports psychology business outside the school district.
“I didn’t really want to announce it. Coach Palmer didn’t give me any choice. He deserves it because he’s going to be an amazing coach here and continue all of our success,” Ulrich-Suss said.
Deer Valley honored the founder of its program by inducting her into the school’s men’s volleyball hall of fame in a ceremony after the team’s April 18 victory over Prescott.
She has coached for 38 years, including Deer Valley with women’s volleyball from 1984-1993 then again from 1995-2000 and men’s volleyball from 2002-2019.
“Kim Ulrich-Suss is a woman of character and integrity who cares more about others than of herself,” Palmer stated in an email. “Kim is one of the real innovators and trend setters in men’s volleyball in our state. It was Kim, and dear friend Cheryl Ingram, a retired principal and AIA Committee member who sat in on AIA board meetings advocating for men’s volleyball in the West Valley. Because of their efforts, men’s volleyball originated at Deer Valley HS and the entire Deer Valley School District in 2002.”
Ulrich-Suss led seven regional girls track championship teams, three regional women’s volleyball championships, five regional men’s volleyball championships and one men’s volleyball state championship. She is a five-time track coach of the year, nine-time volleyball region coach of the year and two-time state volleyball coach of the year.
The Deer Valley Unified School District named her the Pursing Victory with Honor district coach of the year in 2007.
On May 15, she earned the honor for the second time during a DVUSD board meeting.
Her greatest impact on our program has been coaching the mental game. She has a master’s degree in sports psychology and takes our team through a meditation before every game preparing our players to win the game before they step on the court. This has become a life skill for many of our alumni who have used mental imagery in their everyday lives,” Palmer stated.
While reluctant to be in the spotlight, Ulrich-Suss said she was thrilled at what the retirement night turned into.
“I tried really hard to stay focused. When I heard they were doing this I thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to get sentimental in the middle of the season.’ But to have all those kids come back — who are now 40 year olds with families of their own — was beyond precious. It made me feel fulfilled as a human being and as a coach,” Ulrich-Suss said.