East Ridge High School's volleyball team will have someone different on its bench this fall for the first time in 50 years. Terrence Allen will be the successor for Catherine Neely, who announced her retirement as volleyball coach in January.
Allen was a first-year coach of the basketball Lady Pioneers last season. He said he's coached various sports in his career, including volleyball when he was in Chicago at Austin Career Academy and Fenger Academy.
Allen said Neely, who remains the school's athletic director, has been a great help to him, whether it's been showing up at tryouts and lending support or helping him become familiar with the way things are done in Chattanooga.
He said about nine or 10 players are returning from last fall and most of those he's also coached in basketball.
"Once we get everybody in, I'll sit down with the seniors and together we'll come up with some type of goal to set for the team," Allen said. "I'll do that as a way of getting them involved in the process. I think they need to be actively involved in the project."
Coach Diana Brock is a former East Ridge volleyball player who also is leaving the program after serving as Neely's assistant the last 23 years. Sandy Mauser has resigned as head softball coach and has been hired as Allen's assistant.
Mauser guided the Lady Pioneers' softball program to four region championships and a state-tournament berth in her 14 seasons. Her 2002-05 teams won four consecutive district titles and went unbeaten against district opponents in three of those years. She had at least one player sign a college scholarship in 11 of her seasons.
"I've coached or played softball for about 40 years," Mauser said. "I just needed to take a break. I still love the game. I like being a spectator also. I'm closing the door altogether. I just want to take a break. I'm ready to move indoors."
Mauser played softball at Kent State and said she also played one season of volleyball while there, in addition to playing in high school. She also has some volleyball coaching experience from her time in Ohio.
"She's been around different sports," Neely said of Mauser. "She's played different sports all her life. We talked with her about it a long time ago. Then we talked with him and found out he had some volleyball experience and he was right here in house. He agreed to do it.
"I think he'll work them hard. I think Sandy will work them hard. They'll do a good job. I believe we're leaving it in good hands."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or email@example.com.