After five seasons Lady Sauras volleyball coach Doug Balser announced on Thursday he’s stepping down and has accepted a position at Reagan High School.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to make,” he said. “I love it at South.”
Balser explained Reagan is less than two miles from his home and his oldest daughter attends the school.
“It was just one of those moves that made sense. I wasn’t looking for a change because I like to put down roots and I’ve been very happy here.”
In Balser’s first year coaching at South he led the team to the third round of the state playoffs. Since then he’s recorded more wins than any previous coach.
“We almost won the third round that first year. We were starting to actually play as a program and not just six girls on a court. That was the goal in the beginning,” he said.
Last season Balser led the varsity team to a 22-6 record and was chosen Western Piedmont Conference coach of the year.
“We lost two incredible seniors, but there’s a strong core group of girls that should be just as competitive next season. We also have a nice group of JV players moving into some new roles.”
While the coach has invested in the ladies program and the results can be easily seen, he’s quick to say it isn’t the records he’s most proud of.
“I wanted to see the girls become better people and I believe they have. That’s why we do events like Dig for a Cure and programs that benefit the community. I want the girls to learn to give and to trust each other. They aren’t going to make a living playing volleyball, but hopefully the teamwork and learning how to be responsible is going to affect their personal and professional lives.”
Another aspect Balser intentionally incorporated into the program was academic responsibility. He monitored his player’s grades frequently and kept lines of communication open with the girls and their teachers.
“I believe the discipline on the court translates to the classroom. I’m not opposed to meeting on the track and running when grades don’t add up,” he said. “This past year, I was blessed to have a group of girls where that wasn’t an issue.”
Recently, the Lady Sauras team was nominated for an academic award from the American Volleyball Coaches Association based off the player’s grade point averages.
While leaving South’s volleyball program is difficult, Balser plans to stay connected with many of the players through Champion Volleyball Club, an organization he began six years ago that’s grown to become the second largest club program in western Carolina. The club has 21 teams with girls coming out of Stokes, Davie, and Forsyth County.
“We have teams that are highly skilled and some that are developmental. It gives players an opportunity to grow and I think it’s been a big part of our success here,” he said.
Balser’s confident the program will continue to thrive in years to come and is thankful to have been a part of it for the past five seasons.
“A piece of my heart will always be here,” he said. “My goal was to create a strong program and I think the girls have done that. They’ve taken pride in it and I’m extremely proud of them.”
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.