DALTONnow.com

January 11, 2014

Lady Cats in search of a new leader on volleyball court

Nearly a decade of coaching with Dalton High School’s volleyball program has come to an end for Joey Wills.

He announced his resignation as the Lady Catamounts’ head coach at the team’s postseason banquet this past fall, and Dalton athletic director Jeff McKinney said the vacancy is still just that. McKinney said the search for a coach has only been inside the school system so far, but it could become an external search if the opening is not filled in the coming months.

“We are still accepting applications for the position,” McKinney said.

McKinney said Wills told school officials of his decision “the Monday following his last game,” which was Saturday, Oct. 12, in the Area 7-4A tournament. McKinney said the resignation was completely Wills’ decision.

“He wasn’t under pressure or anything like that,” McKinney said. “He’s had several successful years. ... He just wants to spend more time with his family. Who can blame him?”

Before spending the past five seasons as head coach, Wills was an assistant coach for four seasons to Christina Seifert (formerly Liner). The team made the state playoffs each of Wills’ seasons as an assistant.

Dalton went 6-26 in 2013 for Wills’ worst single-season record as the program’s head coach.

However, the Lady Cats were a combined 89-66 in the previous four years, reaching the state playoffs each of those seasons and advancing to the second round in three of them. The program’s best season with Wills as head coach was 2011, when Dalton finished 30-15.

While the Lady Cats never captured an area championship under Wills’ direction, they did finish second to rival Southeast Whitfield in 2011 and 2012, the year the Lady Raiders became the first program in Whitfield County to advance to the state semifinals. Wills also coached several standout players in his five years as head coach. Outside hitter Susan Meinders made The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Volleyball Team twice, as did outside hitter Natali Rendon. Joana Rosales was an all-area honoree as a setter in 2010.

Being part of the program for nine seasons was an enjoyable experience, Wills said.

“It’s been a huge part of my life,” he said, “and it has been a great part of my life.”

Wills stepped down to spend more time with his two sons, Bennett and Colby. Both are involved in tennis, with Bennett a freshman at Dalton High School and Colby a seventh-grader at Dalton Middle School.

However, it doesn’t mean Wills is finished altogether with coaching at Dalton High School — he will begin this spring as an assistant tennis coach for David Hilley. Jim Case, who formerly assisted Hilley, is now Southeast’s head coach for boys basketball.

“It was for family reasons,” Wills said. “I have two boys in tennis and they play a lot during the summer. Volleyball takes up a lot of time during the summer, and I wanted to spend time with them.

 “I’ve only got a short while with my kids being home and before long they’ll be off to college, so I want to spend some time with them.”

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