HCC doesn't tumble under Domenicos, Hawks just kept moving forward

February 01, 2011|By DAN KAUFFMAN |
  • Former HCC coaches Beth and James Domenico helped keep the volleyball program in the center of the national spotlight.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — When Beth Domenico took over the Hagerstown Community College volleyball program in 2001 — with husband James as an assistant coach — she had large shoes to fill.

Marlys Palmer was stepping down as volleyball coach after winning nine Region XX titles and qualifying for nine NJCAA Division II national tournaments in 10 years.

“Thinking back, I don’t know if we felt much pressure,” Beth Domenico said. “We knew there would be some rebuilding years. It took us three years to get back to nationals. We wanted to get there as soon as possible because we wanted the success of the program to continue.”

The Domenicos filled those aspirations by leading HCC to the last eight Region XX titles and national tournaments, finishing as high as seventh place in 2007. Now, it’s time for someone to fill their shoes.

The Domenicos are leaving the Hawks’ bench for good after compiling a 312-95 record over the last decade. The name of HCC’s next coach is pending, but they will have a higher bar to reach because of the Domenicos.

And they leave with a feeling of accomplishment.

“Volleyball, as a player and a coach, has taken me places I never would have went,” Beth Domenico said. “It’s been wonderful. Every year when we won regionals and went to nationals, it was huge for us and very emotional. That’s what I always wanted. I go on and on about the nationals experience, and for the players to go through it and see what it’s about ... former players talk about those experiences all the time.”

Last year, Beth Domenico handed over the head coaching reins to Ty Hart, while the Domenicos stayed on as assistants to help keep the program stable before their final exit.

“The main reason is our kids,” Beth Domenico said. “They’re getting into things, and I’ve always said once volleyball gets in the way of my kids doing something, it’s time to close that chapter of our life.

“We’re going to miss it. Having a relationship with the girls is what we’ll miss the most.”

“We’ve been very fortunate to have them on our staff and they’ve done obviously a wonderful, wonderful job,” said HCC athletic director Bo Myers, who also confirmed that Hart will not be back as head coach due to work obligations as a teacher in Berkeley County, W.Va. “We’re so grateful for them setting a standard that will certainly be the standard we hope to approach as we continue with the volleyball program.”

Under the Domenicos, HCC remained a pipeline for many Washington County volleyball players to continue their careers, earn an associate’s degree and potentially catch the eye of a four-year college — and play on one of the best NJCAA teams in the country.

“The county girls have made the biggest impression on us,” Beth Domenico said. “Typically they come to our camp and we know them for more than two years. Our team was a nice stepping stone for county girls and we always wanted to have a good number of them on our team. I still talk to them, they ask us for advice sometimes, and that will be irreplaceable. I’m hoping those relationships carry on for long time to come.”

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