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James steps down as volleyball coach

Nevada Appeal Staff Reports

Daryl James steps down as volleyball coach at Carson

Dave Price

Daryl James literally has volumes of fond memories filed away from the 1960s when he practically grew up playing volleyball on the beaches of Southern California.

And while the sand is a lot different in Carson City, James is quick to point out the many great memories he has gained from coaching volleyball at Carson High over the past two decades, including the last eight years as the program’s head coach.

But now, the time has come to move on.

“I had a lot of fun with it and the school has always been very supportive,” said James, who submitted his resignation to school officials last week. “It’s just time to move on and let younger people to get involved. They know the sport, they’re ready to jump in and they’ll do a good job.”

James has seen considerable success at Carson, not the least of which was an undefeated Northern 3A championship team in 1987.

“There’s just been a lot of really good athletes,” James said. “That’s the part that has been so rewarding. It’s been fun to watch these kids play and grow up and get on with their lives. Northern Nevada has produced some good volleyball players and it’s been fun watching them play this sport.”

Some of those players have gone on to play at the collegiate level. Among those to have gone on is Kaitlin Leck, a Carson graduate who now plays as an outside hitter for a University of Washington team currently ranked No. 11 in the nation (Leck had 11 kills in a win over then No. 6 Stanford on Oct. 23). Then there’s Jennifer Hucke from Fallon and now playing at Stanford, as well as two other Fallon products, Tristin Adams and Carly Sorensen, along with Galena’s Kellie Burton, who are now playing for the University of Nevada, which hosts the Western Athletic Conference Tournament starting today in Reno.

“Some of those athletes are unbelieveable,” James said, referring to the WAC Tournament. “A bunch of our kids went up to watch Hawaii and Nevada the other night, they came back and their eyes were wide open.”

To James, it was rewarding to see his players enjoy watching a Hawaii, a team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament Final Four last year. He knows the feeling. He worked at the NCAA Final Four as an official in the mid-1970s. James also happens to know Hawaii coach Dave Shoji from their college playing days.

“Dave was a setter at (UC) Santa Barbara when I was at Long Beach State,” James said.

“I’ve just been fortunate to have met a lot neat people and made a lot of neat friends,” he went on. “Marv Dunphy, the coach at Pepperdine (and an assistant coach for the U.S. National Team at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney), if he was in town, he’d always come talk to the kids … Paul Sunderlund, Larry Rundle, Rudy Suwara, Gene Selznick, Don Shaw, Kathy Gregory … I could name a million people who are just great.”

Those were all friendships carved from a time when top-flight players would converge for lunch hours and then after work. They weren’t playing for money, but rather for love of the game.

“I used to walk down the beach and play at the Hermosa Pier every day. On any given day, we used to have 20 Triple-A players show up on the beach. We had bigger wars on the beach than we did in the tournaments.”

That knowledge and experience showed up when James began coaching at Carson in the 1980s (he left the program in the early 1990s and returned as head coach in 1995).

“Daryl has been around volleyball a long time. He has a great understanding of the game, and when you see him coach, you know it’s not something he picked up by watching a video or reading a magazine.,” said John Carlson, who was an assistant coach on Carson’s 1987 championship team and is now the principal at McQueen High. “He’s really sharp. He enjoys volleyball and he enjoys the kids. He likes to have a good time, but at the same time, he’s an individual who has some high standards as far as sportsmanship and hard work.”

A lot of hard work paid off for a young and relatively inexperienced Carson team that finished second in the Sierra League with a 9-3 record this season, then lost to McQueen in the first round of the Northern 4A Regional Tournament at Galena. Tabitha Adams and Kaitlin Brush, team co-captains and three-year varsity veterans, both finished the season as first-team all-league selections. Freshman Nicole Scott was a second-team selection, while Jenna Mechum, Adrienne Fletcher and Catherine Brekken received honorable mention recognition.

“I was proud of these kids,” James said. “Coming into this season, we didn’t have anybody who’d really played much in a match, except for Tabby (Adams), so we were pretty much a new team. There’s quite a few good athletes throughout the program, too, so they should be successful for a while.”

Carson also won the 4A state academic championship.

“That’s something we’re proud of,” James said of the academic championship. “That’s a real tribute to the kids.”

James is now looking forward to watching his own two sons, Matt and Andrew, move along. Matt James graduated earlier this year from Cal Lutheran University and is currently serving as a graduate assistant coach for the baseball program (he hit .451 last season). Andrew James is a sophomore infielder at Cal Lutheran (he played in eight games and hit .429 last season).

James is looking forward to watching some Cal Lutheran baseball in the future and in another six years he plans to retire from his job at the Nevada Department of Transportation – and maybe return to the beach.

“I’m 58, in about six more years I want to retire, then June and I are going to goof off,” James said, laughing. “I’d like to go back to Southern California. I’d like to surf again, I’d like to ride my bike on The Strand (at Hermosa Beach) and just have some fun.”