FAIRMONT — It’s been a trying past couple of seasons for Fairmont Senior volleyball, a program that has wobbled with instability as coaches have come and gone in a heartbeat. Returning players have been caught in an ongoing crossfire of that constant change as the program has tumbled without any sort of bedrock or foundation.
The Lady Polar Bears have cycled through three coaches the past three seasons, with the avalanche of turnover starting when current University girls’ basketball coach Dave Price left FSHS volleyball after the 2016 season, the program’s last above .500, to cap a successful coaching tenure.
On Monday, Fairmont Senior volleyball officially tabbed its third coach since Price’s resignation and its fourth in the past four years when Kyle Hines was approved as the Lady Polar Bears’ new coach by a vote of the Marion County Board of Education.
“I’m excited to have the job and start building the program and see where we can go,” said Hines, who received a recommendation from Price when he applied for the job, with the two men developing a relationship through University basketball. “I like consistency, so I’m hoping to bring some consistency to the program. I don’t want to be there for only a year and then leave or anything like that.”
Hines, who graduated from University in 2008 before attending West Virginia University, has coached volleyball and basketball at various levels around the local area since 2012. His most recent coaching gig was at Morgantown High School, where he served as the volleyball’s program’s JV coach as well as being an assistant on the varsity staff each of the past two seasons.
“I always look around for opportunities to run my own program whether it be in basketball or volleyball,” said Hines, who has a family lineage in coaching with a pair of uncles, Jack and Bill, who have coached football and basketball at the high school level, respectively.
Hines’ resume is littered with coaching stops, which were exclusively in basketball until he ventured into volleyball at Morgantown. His initial job was as the boys’ basketball coach at South Middle School in Morgantown before a three-year stint at Rivesville Middle School in Fairmont, where he coached the boys’ team for three seasons and the girls’ team for one. From there, he got on with University’s girls’ basketball program as the freshman coach before getting an itch to add more to his coaching plate.
“I coached basketball, but I was looking for a fall sport to coach,” said Hines, who played football under longtime UHS coach John Kelley all four years of high school while also playing basketball his freshman year. “Although I played football in high school, I couldn’t remember anything we had done practice-wise, so I never felt comfortable enough to go into coaching football.”
Hines pondered jumping to volleyball, but he didn’t have much of a background in the sport. He asked around trying to get a feel for just how difficult of a transition it would be. The consensus was such an undertaking was doable, he said.
“It was not as easy as some people said it would be,” he says now. “I didn’t know the game that well.”
But his debut season with MHS volleyball in 2017 was a godsend for Hines, he said, as he had the blessing of working with then-varsity coach Art Manantan, who had played during his college years in addition to his experience as coach.
“He really helped me in terms of being able to draw up lineups and figure out where to put people in certain situations and stuff like that,” Hines said. “He helped out tremendously.
“Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve been able to learn something from someone, take it on with me and apply it.”
Hines will now take on his first coaching job at the varsity level with the Lady Polar Bears after the team won five games under former coach Josh Kisner, who resigned in May after one season with the team.
“It’s a new chapter for everybody, for me, for the girls, everybody,” said Hines, who said he has yet to meet the team with his official hire on Monday coming just after Marion County’s three-week period, a designated three-week timeframe by the WVSSAC that permits high school teams to practice together with their high school coaches. “I’m hoping to bring in a fresh take on everything for the girls.”
Ideally, of course, Hines said he would’ve liked for his hire to come sooner, early enough to permit him to partake in the three-week period, but he said he understands the timing of the situation and that no one was to blame.
Still, it puts him behind the eight-ball, he said, with the start of the season just under two months away. But he said he’ll arrange a meeting with the team to conduct initial introductions, begin the process of filling out a staff, and use his six available flex days to squeeze in a few practices for the Lady Polar Bears over the rest of the summer.
“I’m just concerned with moving forward,” Hines said. “If I know anything about Fairmont Senior just in general, it’s that there are a lot of hard working athletes there. You can just look at their basketball programs, their football program, any level of it. So I don’t think volleyball will be any different; they’re going to come in ready to work and be ready to compete and it’s my job to help them elevate that intensity they already have.”