On Jan. 2, 2019, Ginger Hamric turned in her resignation to step down as Catawba’s volleyball head coach. “I cried for two days straight,” says Hamric. “But I knew it’s what I had to do.” Hamric had a stellar career at Catawba leading her team to 536 wins during her tenure, including two South Atlantic Conference titles and three SAC tournament titles. In 2001, Catawba became the first SAC school to make a NCAA Division II regional tournament appearance, and followed that up with three additional regional tournament appearances. Hamric was named SAC Coach of the Year four times during her tenure, and in 2008 Hamric was inducted into the Catawba Hall of Fame.
When colleagues, players, and friends heard about Hamric’s resignation the same word was used to express their feelings on the matter – “shocked.” No one saw any signs of Hamric wanting to leave; not even her first year assistant coach David Brooks. “I knew eventually she’d resign, but I thought it would be a few more years,” says Brooks. “I mean, she is Catawba volleyball.” Hamric’s current players were equally surprised by the sudden resignation. “I was shocked because when she was recruiting me she told me that she would definitely be here for at least four more years,” says freshman middle hitter Jessica Walker. However, a few players could sense a change might be taking place. “I had a feeling something was up,” says junior middle hitter Allie Grubb. “Normally she would be emailing us over break about spring season, and she would be getting on me about my grades and staying in shape, but she wasn’t. She felt distant.”
The resignation seemed to surprise even the people closest to Hamric, so why the sudden decision to leave? “I don’t want to be negative, but it was a job responsibility and salary dispute,” explains Hamric. However, the current players were told slightly different variations to why Hamric resigned. “The athletic director told us that they met on several occasions and were disagreeing on the future of the program,” explains Walker. Although, over holiday break Hamric sent a text to her players with an altered version of the story. “She told us it was her decision because the administration wasn’t going to pay her for coaching both beach and indoor volleyball,” says Grubb.
Whatever the reason is behind Hamric’s resignation, it is not stopping others from having a positive outlook on the situation. “She was the coach for a long time and coached a lot of young women, but change is not a bad thing,” says Athletic Director Larry Leckonby. “Players and alums are looking forward to a new look and energy.” Grubb supports this statement adding: “A new coach with different ideas will bring a new chemistry, and everyone’s excited about it.”
The search for a new coach is underway, but until then Brooks has stepped in to lead the team during the spring season. “I think the fall season is for improving the team, and the spring season is for improving the individual player,” says Brooks. “I want every player to improve over this spring season.” The players feel individual improvement has already taken place under Brooks’ guidance. “David has stepped in and has been good for the team,” says Walker. “We have only one hour to practice and we get a lot done.”
As the spring season is moving forward as planned, the search for a head coach is also moving forward – and even faster than expected. “I was surprised by the number of applications,” exclaims Leckonby. “We have put a search committee together and are starting to narrow down the candidates.” The players will also be involved in hiring a new coach. “We like to have our student athletes involved,” explains Leckonby. “We talked to the players about what they wanted and we are letting them meet some of the candidates.” The players already have a good idea of what they’d like to have in a new coach. “I want someone who gives constructive criticism, and someone who fixes problems before they become an even bigger problem,” explains Walker. Grubb agrees, adding: “Someone who can bring the team together, and make sure everyone is on the same page.”
There is no question Catawba volleyball is moving toward a promising future. As for Hamric, she has got her own plans for the years to come. “I put my name in to coach for a few other schools at the Division I and Division II levels,” says Hamric. “I’ve always been a teacher at heart, so I hope to continue teaching.” No matter what the future brings for Hamric, she will always have a special place in her heart for Catawba volleyball. “I wish it well and I hope it thrives,” exclaims Hamric. “After 29 years with this program, all I’ve ever wanted was to see it thrive.”