RIVERSIDE, Mo. — Park Hill South has turned its volleyball program over to a familiar face.
Samantha Williams, a Panthers assistant the past four years, has been tabbed the next head coach, the school recently announced.
“It’s definitely an honor to continue to be a part of the tradition that Park Hill South has,” said Williams, who will take over for longtime coach Karen Rule. “Succeeding somebody like Debbie Fay and (McConnell), it means a lot. I’m really excited to build on the tradition and excited for the future.”
“We have a pretty great tradition there and I didn’t see that we needed to have a big change,” Park Hill South athletic director John Carr said. “We’ve had some consistent success with that program for years now. The bottom line is (she has) to continue to build and put some of her own things in the program to prove it.
Williams inherits a squad that went 23-11 this past fall, and a program that has won 20 games in each of the past four seasons. The Panthers have been state runner-ups twice — 2013, 2003 — and have also placed third (2005) and fourth (2004) during their history.
“The expectation for our kids have been very high. That’s not changing,” Williams said. “The level of play will stay the same, and academically, we have kids that perform well. (It’s) really about holding the kids accountable and letting them enjoy these four years. You only get to do high school one time, so making their four years enjoyable for them is what I want to accomplish.”
Williams enjoyed a strong prep career while at Fort Osage, where she was awarded in 2004 with the Evelyn Gates award, given each year to the best volleyball player in the greater Kansas City area.
For Williams, this is her first opportunity to lead a program as a head coach. But she — and Carr — are confident that her valuable experience as an assistant will pay dividends.
“I’m in my ninth year as a volleyball coach,” Williams said, “so I really take the experiences from all my players, and I really try to learn something from each kid, and I think it’s about surrounding yourself with people that know more than you do so you’re always learning.”
“She loves volleyball and spends a ton of time around the sport. When you watched her as an assistant, you could see that,” Carr said. “She’s driven, focused and a competitor who knows how to coach. She has it.”