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Conlin takes over Williams Bay volleyball



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August 18, 2010 | 06:02 PM
Williams Bay — Not too many athletes can say they made it to the state title game all four years in high school. Furthermore, they can't say they've played in an NCAA championship game in college.

Kristina Conlin can.

The 22-year-old former Bulldog volleyball standout, who was a member of three state championship teams from 2003-2005, will try to turn around a team that finished 8-17 last year.

A setter for the Bay, Conlin then played at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for two years. As a libero, she helped lead her team to a NCAA Division 3 title game her sophomore year.

Conlin has turned her eyes to coaching, and after leading the junior varsity squad last year, she will take over as the new varsity head coach.

The Regional News had a chance to sit down with Conlin last Thursday to discuss her background and goals for the season.

RN: Tell me about your history playing volleyball in Williams Bay.

KC: I started playing club ball in fourth grade. Then, I made varsity as a freshman. I was a setter in high school and moved to libero in college. Both years in college, we went to the NCAA championships, taking third my freshman year and second my sophomore year. I started both years.

RN: Any plans to go back to college?

KC: I hope to return next fall and get my degree in psychology.

RN: Do you still play volleyball?

KC: I got a little burnt out, but I still play here and there.

RN: Take me through your coaching career so far.

KC: My first year coaching at the Bay (2008), I coached junior high to help Cherie Lininger. Then I helped a little with varsity last year.

RN: How did the varsity job this year come up?

KC: Cherie got an awesome job down in Chicago. I found out two weeks ago. I called Mike Coolidge, and he asked me if I wanted to do it. There are only three weeks to put together a season, but I said yes.

RN: How is this year shaping up?

KC: Tryouts started Monday. I don't have any seniors this year.

RN: Why did you want to be the head coach?

KC: I've seen attitudes toward sports decline in recent years. I want to invoke school spirit and school pride in the girls. I like coaching and working with high school girls. It was a great opportunity, and I wasn't going to pass it up.

RN: As a former star player, what do you expect of your players?

KC: I want them to have fun and feel good about themselves. I hope they get to know their athletic ability. I want to push them a little harder than they've been pushed. Hopefully my drills in practice will bring out their abilities.

RN: Do you have any special training?

KC: I like to do outdoor training. We'll be running down by the beach. We like to get out of the gym. But not hard stuff. It's bad to push your muscles during the season.

RN: Who else is joining you?

KC: Megan Hovestol will be the junior varsity coach. She was on the state teams with me at the Bay for two years. She's a really good coach. She's good with the girls, and she helps me out a lot. It will be just the two of us, so it will be fun.

RN: Who was your biggest inspiration to play volleyball?

KC: My dad John. I had a lot of support from my family. My parents pushed me and gave me opportunities. Also, my high school coach Jim Neave was a big inspiration. He was an awesome coach, and it would be cool if he came to a couple games. He is one of my heroes.

RN: What do you get out of volleyball?

KC: I like seeing the girls improve and have fun. I've always been in a team setting, so it's kind of all I know. I like to be around people and be a role model for the girls. I have a lot of experience that could help the girls. I saw how good my coaches were, and I want my girls to look up to me like that.

RN: Have there been any setbacks so far?

KC: Kristina Rodriguez broke her hand, so she will be on the bench with me. She will still be a big part of the team.

RN: How would you like to finish the season this year?

KC: I would like to win conference. Just because we don't have seniors, I hope to teach the girls all the basics of volleyball. We're going to start from scratch with the fundamentals. I want everyone on the same page with footwork and everything. We will be good, but I want to do some things my way.

RN: How crazy has this change been?

KC: It's been kind of crazy. I have a lot of people congratulating me. I didn't think it was going to be such a big deal. I see that people are excited. But it kind of stresses me out because I had success when I was younger and people have high expectations. It's not like that. I'm not pushing the girls like that at all. I can only do so much. It's definitely going to be a fun season. I like all the girls, and we have a great team. I'm excited.

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