With collegiate volleyball just months away, Haleigh Washington took time out of club practice on Friday to show her support for former coach Tara Hittle’s decision to leave Doherty High School’s volleyball program.
Washington, who is still trying to get her knee back to 100 percent after some discomfort, said while she was disappointed when Hittle told Doherty’s team of her resignation on Wednesday, she remained upbeat about her mentor’s future.
“I’m excited for her. I can’t wait to see what she does next,” Washington said, as she will join NCAA National Champion Penn State in the fall. “She’s like a mad scientist as a coach. She’ll do anything at any time, and it’s always genius.
“I know it (her resignation) was a letdown to all of us girls, especially the girls who aren’t seniors this year. But how can you be upset with her? She is going after her dream. That’s pretty dang cool to me.”
In 2013, Washington, a two-time Colorado Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year, played every position except libero and setter, and still had a ridiculous 547 kills to lead all classifications.
By the state tournament, however, the extremely inexperienced Spartans could not get out of pool play and finished the season 21-6.
In three seasons at the helm, Hittle went 67-15 and brought Doherty a state title at the end of an undefeated 2012 season.
“Coach Hittle was amazing both my years here,” said Washington, who moved to Colorado Springs before her junior season. “She knew what coach she had to be each year. My junior year, when we were experienced and knew we had a chance at a title, she was tough on us and kept us in line. She didn’t mind yelling at us a bit then and it fueled us.
“And then this last season, with so many young players, she was more of a player’s coach. She kept our heads up and didn’t let us get too down on ourselves. She was a heck of a coach and I know I’ll always have her going forward.”
On Thursday, Hittle told The Gazette that she hadn’t found another job as of yet, but had a “strong interest” in coaching at the collegiate level.
Doherty athletic director Chris Noll, meanwhile, said no timetable had been set in finding Hittle’s replacement.
By Brent W. New, The Gazette