When Kristin Hilligoss Estridge was playing volleyball at Mooresville High School and Marian University, her after-game routine often included treating scrapes and bruises caused by her frequent dives to the floor to dig spikes and keep points alive for her team.
Although her varsity playing days are over, she has the same approach to the game.
“I played with my friends (recently), and I am sore all over,” said Hilligoss Estridge, 25, recently hired as the new varsity volleyball coach at Whiteland Community High School.
A standout high school and college player, Hilligoss Estridge succeeds Cheneta Morrison, who resigned at the end of the 2013 season. Hilligoss Estridge had served as an assistant for Morrison and is now a first-time varsity head coach.
A physical eduction teacher and assistant softball coach at the school, Hilligoss Estridge still plays recreational volleyball and insists Whiteland’s varsity players can expect a combination of hard work, positive reinforcement, high accountability and a fun environment.
In short, she expects players to share her determination, drive and love for the sport.
“Volleyball is my passion. I expect everyone on the team to have fun,” Hilligoss Estridge said. “If you are not enjoying it, you are not going to want to work hard.
“I enjoy coaching and playing, and basically I expect that from my players.”
Hilligoss Estridge had been an assistant coach on the 2012 team but did not coach with the team last season. Despite her familiarity with the program, she has not yet had the chance to assess how many players will return from last season’s 5-16 squad.
But no matter who does or does not return, she is confident of eventually establishing a winning tradition for a program that has struggled in recent years.
“Just from what I’ve seen when I coached JV, we’re not the tallest, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be the team that is working the hardest,” Hilligoss Estridge said. “We need to get more offseason work in. We need to get into the weight room, get stronger, and we need to get back to basic fundamentals.
“I think we can have a more positive mindset. I’m looking forward to being in the building during the day with players and building relationships. I’ve enjoyed that with the softball team and want to continue that here.”
Hilligoss Estridge said her preferred method of interacting with athletes is intense but positive and designed to teach life lessons as well as volleyball skills.
“I’m not a Bob Knight. I’m more on the side of making sure a player knows what they are doing well and what they can do to improve,” she said. “I’m not a yeller and screamer, but I try to be more positive. I do get intense during the games. I’ll get into celebrating kills and rallies just like the girls do.
“I think that anything in athletics can be transferred over to life. It can be transferred over to schoolwork and future goals. I feel like I learned a lot through the sports that I played, like about aspects of teamwork and working through difficult situations and perseverance.”
She might even be able to pass on some valuable lessons on how to deal with bruises and floor burns.