BARTONVILLE, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — It’s a view Shelly Stoner missed.
Standing on the sideline overseeing volleyball practice at Limestone High School where she won four conference titles in the eight years she previously coached the team.
After a four-year break from coaching, Stoner is back. And she’s getting good, early returns from her Rockets who are undefeated after six matches.
“It’s been my motto every year I’ve coached. Try to get the most out of them,” Stoner said. “How you do that is by building relationships and building trust. I think we’re in a good place.”
Stoner says she loves being in the gym again. She had 213 wins in her first go-round at Limestone and took the 2017 team to the class 3A state quarterfinals.
But she admits the opening minutes of her first game back on the bench this season were nerve-racking.
“We were down something like 6-1. I could tell we were nervous. I was nervous. I had to take a timeout for me as well,” Stoner said. “I said, ‘we’re nervous, let’s shake the jitters out.'”
None of her players have played for Stoner prior to this year but many had gone to her Limestone volleyball camps when they were younger. They were very excited to hear she would be their coach this fall.
“When she left (the program) it was my freshman year. I was so mad. I wanted her to coach so badly,” said senior Alayna Rudebeck. “Then when I heard she was going to be coach again, I was over the moon. I was so excited.”
Rudebeck is an all-conference setter and senior Lauren Herz an all-conference libero.
“I was looking forward to playing under her,” Herz said. “She’s really competitive and wants to put her best foot forward.”
Stoner says she’s not sure how long she’ll stay as head coach this time. She says she agreed to “fill a hole” in January after Paloma Simundic stepped down as varsity head coach.
“The girls have been fun. I tell them this is fun for me. It doesn’t feel like a job,” Stoner said. “The girls have made it worthwhile.”