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Friday, May 6, 2016

Uniontown volleyball coach reaches 600-win mark

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Each year, the AVCA
(American Volleyball Coaches Association), honors its member coaches who have reached milestones in their coaching career. This year at the 2012 AVCA Convention in Louisville, Ky., Uniontown High School volleyball coach Jackie Hall was honored at the convention for reaching her 600th career win this past volleyball season. Also, while attending the convention, Hall was able to attend many outstanding volleyball-coaching sessions, the Volleyball Marketplace and the Final Four of Division 1 Collegiate Volleyball. Hall entered her 30th year of coaching this past season at Uniontown. Presenting the award, on left, are Anne Kordes, president of the AVCA, Hall, and on the right, Kathy DeBoer, AVCA executive director.(Courtesy Photo)
Thirty years, all at one school, and 600 victories -- milestones that, taken separately, aren't common. Taken together, they seem even more unusual, especially when longevity with any situation isn't the norm that it used to be.

Jackie Hall has done both.

She got her first job out of college in the USD 235 school district in Uniontown and that's where she's stayed.

"This was the first place I interviewed," recalled Hall. "And I've been here ever since. I'm proud of that fact. I love what I do. This is the best of all worlds."

Along with her high school volleyball coaching duties, Hall teaches elementary physical education, coaches track and volleyball and serves as Uniontown Junior High School athletic director.

She said came by her love of education naturally.

"Both my parents were educators. My dad was a football, track and wrestling coach, and mom was a music teacher."

Following a high school athletic career at Mulvane High south of Wichita, where she played volleyball, basketball and track, Hall headed off to Pittsburg State University. There she continued her volleyball-playing career.

Upon graduation from PSU, she heard about the Uniontown position.

And upon arriving for the job, she's never left.

She and husband Gary, who is a cowboy, cattleman, and a lifelong Bourbon County and Redfield resident who works for the Deerfield Cattle Co., have made Uniontown their home.

Their son Tyler graduated from Uniontown in 2011 and works for Woods Cattle Co. south of Uniontown.

"This is a great place and a great fit for me. I just can't think of anything I'd rather do. I still enjoy going to work every day."

The realization that she was achieving some significant coaching milestones came about rather surprisingly, she said.

"It wasn't until about five or six years ago when I had to fill out a form that asked for my coaching record that I started keeping track," Hall said.

During the 2006 season, she achieved the 400-victory mark. Then in 2009, she notched win number 500. Then this past season came victory number 600.

With that followed special recognition from the American Volleyball Coaches Association at the group's annual meeting in 2012 in Louisville, Ky.

"This was really not something that I tried to attain," said Hall of the honors and recognition. "But going to that coaches' convention certainly helped me as a coach in learning more about the game.

"That learning process has opened doors for me as a coach. I hope it has helped my team and my players and will continue to do so down the road," Hall said.

Hall's teams have consistently been among the contenders for league and state play each year. With eight sub-state titles resulting in eight visits to the state tournament, and 10 more years as sub-state runners-up, the Eagles are a familiar opponent for Kansas teams come tournament time.

Last year was no different as Uniontown finished in a three-way tie at the top of the Three Rivers League, went on to win sub-state and compete at the state tournament in Emporia.

While the Eagles didn't make the finals, the eventual champs and the eventual runners-up both "came out of our pool," said Hall.

That 2012 team was a bit of a surprise, said the coach.

"We had lost four very talented seniors from the year before. That 2011 team was runner-up to Jayhawk-Linn, both in the league and in sub-state. I think people expected us to be solid but we had just lost some significant varsity experience.

"You just never know for sure about a team," said Hall. "We surprised some people. They just kept getting better and improving, Hall said.

"The girls became a volleyball family. They became really close, both on and off the floor. And that really helped us."

Hall added that every team and every player have left their mark.

"Really, every team is special. You watch the team grow and the players improve and come together. That may not always translate into wins. But it's very gratifying to see the little things, to watch the girls grow in confidence and progress as individuals, not only as volleyball players but as people," Hall said.

She has seen several of her players go on to play junior college volleyball and has one, Abbie Smith, daughter of West Bourbon Elementary School Principal Tracy Smith, at her alma mater, Pittsburg State.

She has also seen her players go on to enter the fields of education, nursing, accounting and others, "leading successful lives.

"I like to think they remember a little bit about Uniontown volleyball and that hopefully, they will have some fond memories of their time on the team and at our school."

That's been true for her as well, she said, adding that she wouldn't consider being anywhere else, or, for that matter, doing anything else.

"I love everything about what I do. I don't know what else I would do. I'll just keep doing what I can as long as I'm able.

"I'm proud of our program, of our school, and of our district. I've met a lot of great people, enjoyed being around all our young ladies, and learning about the game.

"You're never too old to learn something new," Hall said.

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