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East Hamilton volleyball assistant Libby Peigen works the first game of the season on Tuesday against visiting Soddy-Daisy.
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Mike Parker

Soddy-Daisy High School has hired Mike Parker and Libby Peigen to fill its tennis and volleyball coaching needs.

"I'd say we hit home runs with both of them," said Steve Henry, an assistant principal at Soddy-Daisy and the school's athletic director. "Lorri Johnson had done a great job with the volleyball, and there were high expectations in the program, which had been competitive. Libby is young and full of energy, and we feel like we did very well with that hire."

Parker was trying to help Henry and principal Danny Gilbert find someone to take the tennis job when Gilbert suggested that Parker do it.

"We have had a very competitive program," Henry said. "Danny suggested that Mike take the program, and Mike suggested a meeting with the players and their parents. They voted afterwards and it was unanimous. We're lucky to land a guy with his experience and know-how."

Parker is perhaps more widely known as coach of a state championship wrestling team at East Ridge and for his continued work, especially with the TSSAA, with wrestling referees. He also is a staunch supporter of the wrestling program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

However, Parker also played tennis for UTC in addition to wrestling and continues to play in local and state tournaments.

"The kids deserved for somebody to come in and keep the program, and since I'm old and retired it was something that I could do," said Parker, who learned much about tennis from Bill Tym, who coached at UTC and also worked as a pro for Manker Patten. "I met with the kids and their parents, and both were great. We hit it off right off the bat.

"I want to (coach) until Steve and Danny find somebody they're comfortable with to take it on."

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Peigen is well-known in volleyball circles, having played for her mom at Ooltewah Middle and Ooltewah High schools. She then played four years at Lee University, the last two as a starter.

"I'm so excited," said Libby, who graduated from Lee in December and who has been teaching at Lookout Valley while coaching the middle school team at East Hamilton. "I heard about the job opening, which was very intriguing for me, and I applied with hopes of getting an interview."

Although she won't officially begin at Soddy-Daisy until August, Peigen is formulating plans already.

"We'll try to have tryouts in May and begin having open gym after that," she said. "From what I understand, Soddy-Daisy has always been very strong. I think I'm walking into a good situation."

Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfreepress.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.

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