Kodiak High School’s new volleyball coach is a familiar face to the program.
Amy Willis was hired last week as the Bears’ varsity coach. This is her second stint as coach of the Bears.
Willis, a 1986 Kodiak graduate, coached the varsity team from 1996 to 2000.
For the past two years she has been Kodiak’s junior varsity coach. She was the Bears’ C squad coach for two years before that. She replaces Rick Carman, who resigned in January to take a job with the Coast Guard in Cape Cod, Mass., after spending seven seasons as Kodiak’s varsity coach.
“Rick was such a student of the game. He was always analyzing and watching film to figure out what we needed to do next,” Willis said. “That is not really my forte. I’m really solid with basics.
“I guess we are going to go to the David Anderson (Kodiak boys basketball coach) school of thought. We are going to go back old school. I don’t have a lot of new tricks. But, I definitely have a lot of stability as far as the basics go.”
Willis’ coaching style was extremely effective during her first tenure as coach of the Bears.
In her first season, she took Kodiak to its first 4A state tournament appearance since the program’s inception in 1981. The Bears finished third at state with an 18-4 record.
Longtime Kodiak sports figure Joe Floyd issued Willis some advice after that season.
“He said you better quit now because you are not going to have a season like this again,” Willis said.
She didn’t quit and took Kodiak to state again in 1998. That season, the Bears finished fifth and ended with a 16-8 record.
Willis is responsible for two of Kodiak’s three state appearances. Carman took the 2008 team to state.
Kodiak’s tryouts begin Monday. Willis said being hired close to the season opening will not be a problem.
“I’m not behind the eight ball at all,” she said. “I really feel pretty confident of just going forward from where we are at. I can’t think of anything that was flawed with Rick’s system, so we are pretty much going to follow the procedures that he has done in the past.”
Kodiak is coming off a 7-10 season, 3-7 in the Northern Lights Conference.
“As far as returning athletes go, we have athletes with varsity experience in every position,” Willis said. “We have athletes who should be ready to roll … I’m going to get a pretty seasoned group. It is how you put that group together on the floor to see what they can achieve.”
Willis starred on Kodiak’s volleyball team in the 1980s, before playing two years at Columbia Basin College in Washington. After a taking a year off she finished her collegiate career playing two years at the University of Alaska Anchorage (1989-1990).
“My UAA experience was really beneficial,” she said. “Judy Lee was my head coach and I just really admired her. I appreciated her program and her honesty and I think I grew as an athlete during her time.”
Willis said she is honored to coach the team she used to play for.
“A lot of my life has been associated with Kodiak High School, whether it was me being there or coaching or working there,” she said. “I am really proud of being part of the the high school tradition and the school district.”
Stephanie (Horn) Kondro is the new junior varsity coach, while the school is in the process of looking for a C squad coach to replace Jim Willis, Amy’s husband. Jim retired, but will assist Amy with practices.
Mirror writer Derek Clarkston can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Tryouts for the Kodiak High School volleyball team are Monday, Aug. 8, through Wednesday, Aug. 10, at the KHS gym from 5 to 8 p.m.
The KHS swimming team also begins practice Monday, Aug. 8, at 3:30 p.m. at the Kodiak Community Pool.