The search didn't take long, and Douglas High athletic director Jeff Evans sure didn't have to look far.
Lorraine Fitzhugh, who coached the Douglas boys' junior varsity soccer team last year, was named Fred Schmidt's successor at the helm of the Douglas girls varsity soccer program after a two-week search.
"I'm just ecstatic," Fitzhugh said. "Jeff Evans let me know when the position came open. I wanted to make sure it was good for my family, and once I had their support, I went for it. I'm just kind of excited right now."
Fitzhugh takes over a program coming off a Sierra League title and a Northern 4A regional semifinal appearance in 2004. The Tigers won 152 games, five leagues championships and two regional championships in Schmidt's 11-year tenure.
Next season, they have a number of returning standouts, including junior first-team all-league goalie Hillary Winans and junior forward Morgan LeFever, a 2004 all-league honorable mention and one of the region's fastest players. LeFever scored 16 goals and had 15 assists on the year to lead the Tigers in scoring.
Starting defenders Samantha Perry and Alicia Sturgess, both juniors, defender/midfielders Megan Olsen (senior), Courtney Lenhart (senior), and Lorelei Gettman (senior) and midfielders Skylar Young (junior) and Ashley Mehrer (senior) are all expected back as well to complete a talented returning core.
"I think every year Douglas has had strong talent coming in and I don't see this year as being any different," Fitzhugh said. "It'll be a new group and I'll be looking at every year as a clean slate.
"I try not to mess with what I have. I'll look at different combinations of girls and formulate something that will work. The type of players we have will dictate what kind of style we play."
Fitzhugh is no stranger to the world of soccer. After playing at the University of Washington, she competed in the U.S. National program, first with the Western Regional team in 1985, 1986 and 1987 and then for the U.S. National team in 1986 and 1987. Her teammates there included future Olympians Michelle Akers and Brandi Chastain. When Fitzhugh played, women's soccer wasn't yet an Olympic sport.
She later played with a club team in Seattle that won a national championship in the women's over-30 class.
"We had a couple of applicants, but Lorraine was bar-none the most qualified," Evans said. "First of all, she is on staff and that is one of my goals here is to get teachers on staff to fill the coaching positions.
"Second, she's played on two national championship teams, been on the U.S. national team and played in college. Third, she has a lot of coaching experience and is very good with kids."
Six years ago, Lorraine and her husband, Ed Fitzhugh, made the move to Carson Valley with their two sons, Gavin (12) and Keaton (8).
She began a series of long-term substitute teaching positions at Douglas High while finishing up her teaching license before being hired on as a full-time math teacher four years ago.
While she doesn't plan on starting conditioning until late July, Fitzhugh has already contacted several players who she's become familiar with, both on the field and in the classroom.
"Over, the last few years I've taken a spring club team into competition with girls from the Valley, from Carson and even from the Lake," she said. "I've been in contact with some of the Douglas girls, encouraging them to show up."