Happy New Year! For those of us who work or play in college sports, January 1 signifies a changing of the dates – but our “new” year generally starts every August, when students return and new freshmen take their first steps onto campus.
Even though many sports – men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s wrestling, men’s and women’s track, men’s volleyball, men’s and women’s swimming, acrobatics & tumbling—simply continue their seasons after January 1, there is still some sense of “new” to the season. All student-athletes get at least 6-8 days away from campus, most at home with family, while some get as much as 3-4 weeks. For many student-athletes, this is their first extended time at home since the summer, and it offers the opportunity to re-charge their batteries.
The time away from campus, the time with family, offers the opportunity to reflect on the challenges they faced the previous semester, and look forward to the challenges confronting them in the coming months, both academic and athletic. While not really a “new year” for them, it does offer an opportunity for a fresh start in many ways.
For coaches and staff, this time of the year represents something different for every coach, depending on the sport and other factors. For fall sports, “next year” begins when students return to campus in about a week. They will begin their off-season training, transition to their non-championship season, working towards goals of improving on the previous season.
For winter sports like basketball and swimming, the goals and outlook are likely different for each program. At King, our swimming programs will look to build on their successes from the fall, quickly regain any fitness lost during the break, and focus on the conference championships in mid-February. Our men’s basketball team, after playing an incredibly tough schedule in November and December, will look to take the lessons learned from those difficult games and turn the page to a successful Conference Carolinas season, while the women’s team will look to build on the momentum of an 8-2 start and surge into the heart of conference play.
Spring sports like baseball, softball, golf, track and tennis begin the new year with eagerness and excitement. They’ve spent the fall training and practicing, knowing that their competition season was still months away. When they return, it will be full steam ahead as their competitions begin in early February.
On the administrative side, for an Athletic Director, the “new” year has little meaning from a professional view point. With 25 varsity sports, we start a “new year” numerous times throughout a calendar year, with each one bringing a fresh breath of optimism and hope. This winter, we will host our first home acrobatics & tumbling contest, in addition to the other spring sports that will bring excitement and pride to the campus.
But, perhaps the “newest” thing to happen in King athletics in the next couple of months will be the hiring of our next head women’s volleyball coach. For the past 29 years, King women’s volleyball has been led by a Toomey. In 1985, Susie Toomey took a fledgling program and transformed it into a regional powerhouse, one of King’s flagship programs. Over her 22 year career, the Hall of Fame coach amassed 749 wins and 16 conference championships, as well as numerous other accomplishments.
The team didn’t miss a beat when Susie retired in 2007, handing the reigns of the program to her son, Chris. In seven seasons, Chris’ teams won 187 games and two conference championships, while transitioning from the NAIA to NCAA Division II. When the team takes the court in the fall of 2014, for the first time in 30 years, a Toomey will not be on the sideline.
Thus, while there may not be much that is “new” for most of our coaches and student-athletes in January 2014, for our women’s volleyball program, an abundance of “new” awaits them! A new coach, with new ideas, and new coaching styles will begin building on the legacy established by Susie and Chris Toomey, put their own stamp on the program, and continue the success of the program.
So, whether the “new” year brings only minor changes or a complete transformation, Happy New Year to all Tornado students, faculty, staff, parents, fans and friends!!