Lots of students have part-time jobs at the dining hall or on Court Street, but Lillie Kearns has taken on a much different task.
Kearns is an Ohio University senior majoring in AYA (Adolescent to Young Adult) integrated science. Each day after classes, which for her end at 5 and 6 p.m., she goes to work as the Athens High School varsity volleyball coach.
The gig was hers after a former coach referred her for the position. “My head coach was just very popular in the volleyball world,” says Kearns.
Immediately after interviewing in June and being offered the position, she held an open gym where she set to work defining an athletic program.
“It’s so difficult to get a good program established,” says Kearns, especially when she is the third coach in three consecutive years.
During the summer, the team practiced in open gyms, but as the school-free months came to an end, Kearns told the girls, “Once August comes, I demand your attention.” The girls have her full attention too.
“My mind is on volleyball all the time,” Kearns says and admits that the balance between college and coaching is difficult to maintain.
Besides evening practices, Kearns and her team meet at the gym at 5:45 in the morning so that the higher schoolers can have a Friday evening and go to the weekly football game. In return, the schoolteacher-to-be demands an importance on grades.
Kearns also stresses that the girls volunteered to play and she volunteered to coach so no complaining. In addition, the head coach doesn’t play into seniority, a stand that caused three of the five seniors to quit. In fact, Kearns starts and plays two freshmen the entire game.
“The point of a varsity sport is to win.” Winning, it turns out, is exactly what Athens High volleyball team has done. For the first time in nine years, the team played in the district game, the first since Athens joined the TVC (Tri-Valley Conference). Not only did they play in the district game, they won and continue onto regional competition Thursday, November 3 in Wilmington.