STHS gets coach just in time
A day after a story in last week’s Tribune speculated that South Tahoe might not field a volleyball team because it didn’t have a coach, Gary Hankoff decided he was coming back to the Vikings. The coach who resigned earlier this year even called a meeting last Friday to assure players there would be a team and that he would be the coach.
“Then all weekend I woke up with cold sweats and I was really nervous about doing it again,” Hankoff said. “I started thinking about it more and more and knew I wasn’t going to be able to do a great job. I needed to find a coach.”
Hankoff’s search didn’t take long as he convinced JV coach Sarah Poulack to take over the varsity position.
“It is very nice. First-year (varsity) coaching is always a learning process and Gary will help her with that process,” said South Tahoe Athletic Director Don Borges. “She’s already been coaching for three years, so she’ll be able to put together a nice, competitive team.”
Hankoff, who cited time constraints as his reasoning for originally stepping down, will coach the JV team and serve as Poulack’s varsity assistant.
“I am excited about it because I plan to continue with coaching for my future,” said Poulack, who was the school’s JV coach the past three years. “I was excited Gary presented this opportunity. I was very thankful.”
Poulack is taking over a team that will need to replace all-league players Jessica Bettencourt, Dana Jensen and Stephanie Morrow. All three players helped the Vikings qualify for the Northern 4A regional tournament the past two seasons, including a semifinal loss to eventual zone champion Galena last year.
Poulack’s top returning players will be seniors Christina Baghdikian and Shaylene McLaughlin. Baghdikian was an all-league player last year, when the Vikings went 25-10.
“I have full confidence in her,” Hankoff said of Poulack. “I would’ve contacted her sooner, but I had heard she wasn’t in town anymore. I heard she went to back to Michigan, where she is from. She’s done a phenomenal job with the JV team. Every year the JV team has improved a ton.”
During the time STHS was without a coach, one person contacted by the school’s athletic department about the position was Whittell volleyball coach Dan McLaughlin. McLaughlin, who was South Tahoe’s track coach from 1985-95, turned down the opportunity to coach a team that includes his daughter, Shaylene.
“There are a lot of pluses at STHS,” said McLaughlin, who has led the Warriors to three consecutive 2A state titles. “My wife graduated there and both of my kids will graduate there. (But) it would be really hard to leave Whittell. They have been very loyal and the kids have been great.”
The 26-year-old Poulack said tryouts for this year’s team start on Monday, with the first day of practice scheduled for Wednesday.
– Steve Yingling contributed to this report.