Kenny Davis had been out of volleyball coaching for four years when he had an epiphany.
“I need to get back into it,” he said.
His family concurred and according to Davis his wife told him, “I never wanted you to get out of it.”
And so, the long time successful volleyball coach at Northeast A League Freeman has returned, moving up in class as head coach at Ferris of the Greater Spokane League.
He is one of four new coaches in the GSL this year, nearly half of the league.
“In terms of the crazy number of new coaches,” emailed Mead’s Judy Kight, who has GSL seniority, “it’s got to be unprecedented. Perhaps name tags would be appropriate at our matches.”
The new group is eclectic.
There’s Chris Kosty, who went 59-18 at North Idaho College before taking an assistant’s job at Indiana University. The new Central Valley coach’s résumé adds cachet to the league.
Longtime Mt. Spokane assistant Dave Whitehead has been elevated to head coach of the Wildcats. And Ashley Crowley, a former player at Shadle Park and junior varsity coach last year at Lewis and Clark is now the Tigers’ head coach.
As a side note, former Lewis and Clark coach Julie Yearout, is the new head coach at West Valley of the Great Northern League. Yearout guided LC to four straight trophies, including three State 4A finals culminated by a 2008 championship, before resigning in 2009.
Davis echoes Kight when he says, “This is my 28th year of coaching and I haven’t seen a league with a changeover this drastic.”
In 2006, he walked away from his estimated 52,500 miles of bus rides and 900 times sweeping the gym floor at Cusick and Freeman with a 380-200 record. His teams made seven trips to state and won five trophies, finishing as high as second.
“I think four years off was good for me just to sit back and analyze what we could do better,” Davis said.
Now he’s in the grinder of a strong volleyball league and at a higher classification, but doesn’t see a great deal of difference.
Davis said he emphasizes unity and that personal growth trumps athletic success.
“When they are out of high school they won’t remember the trophies, they’ll remember their teammates,” Davis said. “My main point is that we as coaches have to develop solid citizens first. We want them academically inclined, then it’s athletics.”
Success on the court will come, he said.
“Right now we’re still learning to walk,” Davis said. “Once we do that we’ll progress.”
Kosty returned to the area for family reasons and was hired at CV.
“After being an assistant in the Big Ten, I found out that it wasn’t what I wanted for my family,” Kosty said. “I look at the change more as changing gears.”
The difference between high school and college is dramatic, he admitted, particularly because of recruiting where college coaches handpick their players. High school is more about teaching and getting the girls to buy in to a system.
“I think we’ll be able to compete, but nobody really knows how things will go,” Kosty said.
Whitehead has inherited an experienced team that last year won the GSL for the first time.
“I’m the new kid on the block in a way,” he said. “I feel well-prepared and yet I’m a little bit humble, these guys (in the GSL) are such good coaches. It’ll be fun.”