Monke: Young, inexperienced coaches abound in Region 7Hope Volesky isn’t one to mince words.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Hope Volesky isn’t one to mince words.
The 27-year-old South Heart native is the new head volleyball coach for the Heart River co-op. Volesky has zero coaching experience and though the team is only days away from playing its first match of the season, she is completely uncertain about the kind of coaching success she’ll have.
“I don’t know what I’m up against — and I’m OK with that,” Volesky said without a hint of laughter.
It’s OK Hope. You’re not alone.
Volesky is one of five first-year head volleyball coaches in Region 7.
All five are equal parts excited and nervous to start their inaugural years when the 2012 season opens this weekend.
Of the 12 teams in Region 7, two have coaches entering their second seasons. Hettinger-Scranton’s Jon Kohler, Beulah’s Kevin Petersen and Beach’s Allison Skari are the most tenured of their peers with just five years of experience as head coach of their teams.
The new coaches aren’t at all blind to their inexperience either.
Taylor Brown, the new coach at New England, said aside from competing against a handful of southwest North Dakota teams during her playing days at Harding County High School in Buffalo, S.D., she knows next to nothing about Region 7 teams or her new coaching peers.
“Hopefully I’ll know more after this weekend, after we have our first tournament,” Brown said.
Some newcomers are taking over for coaches who have built their programs essentially from the ground up.
Volesky has replaced longtime coach Craig Pool. He coached her in high school.
In Killdeer, Megan Nelson supplanted Cindy Hanson, who helmed the Cowboys for nearly two decades.
Kayla Zent takes over at Richardton-Taylor after a decade spent as an assistant coach under Brian Filibeck, who took a teaching and coaching job in Wheatland, Wyo.
Maria Stockert takes a turn at what has seemed to become a revolving-door position for Glen Ullin-Hebron.
“Following up a coach who has been here for 17 years is also a big challenge, so is building the relationships with the girls,” said Nelson, a Washington native who works for the Killdeer Public School and whose only head coaching experience prior to taking over at Killdeer was for a high school dance team.
“I know they’re all used to having another coach. … It’s a big change for the girls, as well as me. We’re all just going to try our very best to get to know each other.”
Of Region 7’s five new head coaches, Zent is the one perhaps feeling best about her situation.
“It helps just knowing them and knowing what they can do,” Zent said. “That makes it feel good, coming in as a head coach.”
Though Zent may be the best bet to stay in her position long term — she’s a math teacher at Richardton-Taylor High School, where she played and graduated — odds are the Region 7 volleyball coaching carousel will keep spinning for years.
“It makes it interesting,” Bowman County head coach Jettie Swanson said. “It’s just a really different atmosphere than when I started.”
Swanson, for the record, is approaching veteran status among her peers.
The Dickinson State graduate is about to begin her second year as the Bulldogs’ head coach.
Monke is the sports editor of The Dickinson Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/monkebusiness and ready his blog at www.areavoices.com/monke.