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Whittington is new Tiger volleyball coach

Missi Whittington

It has been a whirlwind return to volleyball for Missi Whittington.

That return to volleyball has resulted in Whittington being hired as the new varsity volleyball coach at New Richmond High School. She replaces Bob Fisher, who resigned in May after he took the head coaching position at Stillwater High School.

After nearly 25 years away from volleyball, Whittington got involved in coaching volleyball when her daughter began playing at St. Mary's School. Last year, Whittington was hired as the freshman coach for the NRHS team. When Fisher resigned, Whittington was encouraged to apply for the head coaching position and she was picked as the top candidate.

Whittington's volleyball journey started in Springfield, Ill. She said she grew up as part of a volleyball dynasty, with her high school team reaching the Illinois high school state tournament in her junior and senior seasons.

"I had an incredible coach," Whittington said.

She also had incredible success as an outside hitter. She was named one of the top 50 high school players in the nation in her senior season by "Volleyball Monthly." She went on to play volleyball at the University of Illinois.

Then life shifted away from volleyball. She got married at 35 and had two children, who are now entering sixth and fifth grade. A few years ago, her husband, a district sales manager for FedEx, was transferred to the Twin Cities. They decided New Richmond was the best fit for them.

"We wanted the versatility of a small town, but access to the Twin Cities for culture," she said.

Whittington's husband also has an athletic past. He played college basketball at Ball State University. He also made the Olympic handball team, but couldn't compete in the Olympics due to an injury.

Once Missi got back into coaching her daughter at St. Mary's, it didn't take long for her love of volleyball to be rekindled. It also took some adjustment.

"The level of play has increased exponentially since I played. It's a much faster game than when I played, offensively much faster," Whittington said. "I'm going to clinics this summer to make sure I'm everything (athletic director Casey Eckardt) and the girls want me to be."

Whittington plans to meet with the New Richmond players to get them on a workout schedule for the summer. The first practice of the season is on Aug. 19 and Whittington wants the girls to arrive at full strength.

"Volleyball is such a short season, we don't have six weeks to get up to speed," she said.

Whittington said she owes Fisher gratitude for the guidance he gave her as she began her coaching career.

"He was a great mentor. I know the girls will miss him," she said.

She said Fisher has left her a team with a broad base of skills and experience. Many of the girls are playing in a weekly league at Clayton this summer and several played Junior Olympic volleyball.

"I have a group of dedicated girls who really want to win, who want to do the work to get the reward," Whittington said.

Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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