LHS assistant takes over Free State volleyball reins

Free State High athletic director Mike Hill didn’t have to look too far to find the Firebirds’ new volleyball coach.

After spending the last four years as an assistant coach at Lawrence High, Amy Hoffsommer was named Free State’s head volleyball coach on Wednesday.

Hoffsommer, a former volleyball standout at Emporia State, will become the second volleyball coach in Free State history, replacing Nancy Hopkins who retired from coaching in November.

“I am ecstatic. I am very excited,” Hoffsommer said. “It was kind of funny because this last season I was just spending time with Hops, talking to her before a game, and I said, ‘You know, when you retire, I’m going to be applying for your job.’ And she said, ‘Well, I hope you do.’ That’s kind of where the conversation ended, and I didn’t know she was holding that up her sleeve.”

“I was really excited when I got the opportunity (to interview),” Hoffsommer added, “and then when I got it, I’ve had a smile on my face ever since.”

Hoffsommer has been a varsity assistant for the past two years at LHS and was the Lions’ junior-varsity coach for two years beforehand. She’s also been a head coach at Central Heights High and has served as an assistant at Fort Hays State.

All of those coaching experiences, especially after starting at Central Heights, have helped her refine her philosophy since her first head coaching position.

“I think some of that is trial by error when you’re young and a new coach,” said Hoffsommer, who will also teach physical education at Free State. “It was interesting to go back and look at a lot of the materials I had used then, and go ‘Oh, I really didn’t know what I was doing here,’ or ‘Yeah, change that.’ I had a lot to pull from and it’s very helpful.”

Hoffsommer said she learned a lot under LHS volleyball coach Stephanie Magnuson, especially with how to connect and motivate teenaged girls, and create a family environment.

“The first thing I’m really excited about is meeting the girls,” Hoffsommer said. “I’ve played against them but I don’t really know them. Even though I live in a town with them, I just don’t know them. Getting to know my new family, I think, is going to be exciting. That’s where it’s at. That’s why coaches do this.”

The Firebirds had a 19-19 record last season and lost in the sub-state championship game.

“We’re excited to have her,” Hill said. “We had some great candidates and certainly felt really positive about the direction that Amy articulated, where she wanted to take the program. We’re anxious for her to meet the kids and get going.”