New coaching brings fresh ideas to volleyball

Gabrielle Parrish, Staff Writer

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It’s the week before tryouts and players are fearfully asking one question: do we have a coach yet?
“I was terrified,” junior varsity coach Andrew Fickert said.
The summer before school started was filled with chaos for Fickert and the other administrators tasked with hiring Liberty’s new volleyball C-team and varsity coaches. The already difficult task of finding new coaches was made more challenging because there were multiple positions to fill over the summer.
“We had to assemble an interview team, and that’s hard to do in the summer because most people aren’t here,” athletic director Danielle Zelinski said.
The committee assigned to hiring this year’s varsity coach consisted of five members: Zelinski, Fickert, an administrator, and two of the varsity players. Each member of the committee had to be trained to interview candidates by HR, and in addition to the difficulties that came with the hiring process, Liberty faced another problem.
“There was a lack of applicants. Nobody applied,” Fickert said.
Finding candidates for coaching positions can be difficult because of the time commitment required for relatively low pay.
“It is more of a service to the community,” Zelinski said.
Finally, the team appeared to have a candidate for the C-team position, but the woman received another job offer in Redmond. When the month of tryouts came along in August, the program was still short two coaches. Unknown to them, John Kim had applied, but because the website used by applicants was confusing, his application was not visible for Zelinski until after July.
Kim was hired as varsity coach one week before tryouts, and Spanish teacher Madison Lakey was hired as C-team coach one week after tryouts began. Despite this, the players feel like the coaching has been beneficial for the team.
“All the new coaches are doing great and they’ve brought a lot of refreshing ideas to the program,” Fickert said.
Liberty’s varsity team finished their season ranked second in Kingco, with nine wins and three losses. Even though the team lost two district games, it won an impressive district game of 3-0 against Anacortes.
“We have really come together and become more cohesive as a team,” senior libero Clara Leith said.
Despite the last-minute hiring and the fact that this is the first varsity year for many of the players, the team’s success is evident through its rank in Kingco. The players attribute much of their improvement and accomplishments to Kim’s coaching.
“He pushed us to do better than we would have on our own,” Leith said.

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