HCC volleyball coach to retire

February 02, 2001

HCC volleyball coach to retire

By BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer

Marlys Palmer felt an alarm go off the other day.

It jolted her to realize it was time to make a change.


For Palmer, the change will be to retire as Hagerstown Community College's volleyball coach after 22 years of service. It was a pain-staking decision that only became apparent on Monday and will become official at 2 p.m. today at a press conference at the HCC athletic complex.

"It was hard and I was very nervous," Palmer said Thursday. "I was thinking about it for awhile, but I kept it to myself. I just felt like my time was winding down. I didn't even know I was going to do it this week."

Palmer will relinquish her position with the volleyball team, but will remain at HCC as women's basketball coach along with her faculty position as a health professor. The 54-year-old Palmer was nearing her 700th volleyball victory and had led the Hawks to a number of trips to the NJCAA national playoffs during her tenure.


"I've been feeling it coming for the last three or four years," Palmer said. "It was time for each program to have a separate identity. I'm the type that if I can't devote all my attention to something, it only causes me stress. That didn't leave me at my best for my players. I felt personally torn and there wasn't anything I could do. With both teams reaching national prominence, it was time to give each its own identity."

Palmer balanced the volleyball and basketball programs for more than two decades, but said she felt the crush from the growing demands of her academic duties. Since the two seasons overlapped, Palmer found herself dividing her attention.

Palmer chose to stay with basketball and give up volleyball for practical reasons.

"I'd like to have the fall free to do some personal pursuits," she said. "I was a basketball coach first and I was a basketball player in high school and at Penn State. I never have had a luxury of just coaching basketball and putting 100 percent into it."

Palmer answered the alarm on Monday during a meeting about next season's schedule with athletic director Jim Brown.

"I went in there to talk about the schedule and closed the door," Palmer said. "I said it was time. He told me he wanted me to think about it until Wednesday."

Palmer had an inkling that her volleyball career was near the end in December when she was inducted to the National Junior College Athletic Association Volleyball Hall of Fame.

"When I got honored, that was the culminating moment," she said. "I really and truly thought about leaving after the 1998-99 season because I had always joked that I would quit when both the basketball and volleyball teams made nationals. We did it that year."

Changes in sports, with their year-round play and demands, were making it more difficult for her to do both sports while trying to stay up with advancements in the health field for her teaching responsibilities.

"The volleyball environment has changed over the last few years," she said. "With club ball being played during the off-season, coaches have to try and pay attention to it because it affects the types of players you get into the program and it was being played in time when I'm recruiting for basketball."

Palmer said she wouldn't have decided to step down if the HCC volleyball program wasn't on stable footing. She will continue to recruit for next season, along with her assistant coaches, until a new coach is appointed.

"I don't feel I have any loose ends or accomplishments I need to do," Palmer said. "Sometimes coaches don't know when to quit. I just didn't want to be one of those who allowed it to drag on and on and on.

"Our program has offered scholarships to those who didn't have any other scholarship offers and we have given opportunity to the young women of the Tri-State. That's not going to stop and it could get better."

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