TRAVERSE CITY — The offer was too good for Tim Homa to turn down.
Homa, who was named St. Francis volleyball coach earlier this year, has taken a job in Lake Geneva, Wis., as a regional coaching director for a youth ministry camp.
"I'll be building relationships with youth pastors and training youth to be leaders," Homa said. "We're trying to change the youth culture in a positive way."
After stepping down as the varsity head coach at TC Central following the 2009 season, Homa was ready to get back to volleyball this fall with the Gladiators. But then the job opportunity arose.
"I'm a youth guy," Homa said. "I felt like this was an opportunity for a new chapter. This puts me closer to my family (in the Chicago area). And my daughter is going to be going to (Judson University) only an hour away."
"We're excited for Tim and his family," St. Francis athletic director Tom Hardy said. "We're sorry that we didn't get the full experience with him coaching our kids, but what he's done already has been great."
With Homa's exit, St. Francis will turn to Rita Jones and Heather Simpson to co-coach the varsity team. They've led the JV for the last two seasons.
"They've had two great years as our JV coaches, and they both bring such unique qualities that they'll balance each other perfectly," Hardy said. "Heather is just an absolutely fantastic coach, doesn't matter what sport. She relates to kids just tremendously, and it doesn't matter where she's been. The YMCA, TC Central and with our kids at St. Francis. And Rita brings a real technical aspect, as well as being great with kids. Rita was our assistant softball coach, and is coming off a successful spring season at the varsity level."
Two years ago, Simpson took the JV job just before the season began without any volleyball experience. So she called on her friend, Jones, to help out.
"The first year, it started out as they hired her but she didn't have a volleyball background," Jones said. "She asked me to come help out. It just kind of works. Whatever one of us lacks, the other fills in that void."
"The kids see us working together," Simpson said. "That's the reason it's cool for us being co-coaches. We stress teamwork day in and day out. But if we can't work together, why would they? So they see us working together, trying to put out the best product for them. We're honest, we don't agree on everything. But that's okay. We're still working together and we're working towards the same goal of putting the best team on the floor.
"The downside is you have two coaches screaming at you. But the upside is you have two coaches that are your biggest fans. And that's program wide. We want to see kids be successful."
Besides being the JV volleyball coaches, Simpson and Jones have plenty of coaching experience. Jones coached volleyball at TC West for a season several years ago, but had to give it up because it was played in the winter season when her job as a Certified Public Accountant became busy. She also coached with Mike Kowalski this spring with St. Francis softball. And Simpson has been coaching at TC Central for basketball and softball for years.
"That's the part that's really attractive about them," Hardy said. "They know kids. And when you know kids, results are going to follow. They fit the mission of our school perfectly. And they're great people. When you can have two female role models teaching females about life, it's a great thing."
The co-coaches are excited about the team they're taking over.
"They're pretty darn good at volleyball," Jones said. "And they're really in to volleyball. They want to be there, they want to work hard and they want to get better. That makes coaching that much more enjoyable."
Simpson likes their chances to make a tournament run to Battle Creek, with the Class C district at Glen Lake, regionals at St. Francis and the quarterfinal at TC West.
Homa said he knows the duo will do well.
"The one thing I walk away with absolute confidence is the job they're going to do," Homa said. "I've watched them for years and they work very well together. It also doesn't hurt that the year they take over, the varsity has its best talent. They have some college-caliber athletes. It's going to be a phenomenal program."
Jones and Simpson will be hosting a camp this week. Grades 4-8 will go from 5-6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. High schoolers will go Wednesday and Thursday from 7-9 p.m.
Pair will co-coach Gladiators' team
TRAVERSE CITY — The offer was too good for Tim Homa to turn down.
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