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Garry Maskaly won’t be changing districts. Just commutes.
Los Alamos High School announced Friday that Maskaly will take over the Hilltopper volleyball program vacated with the departure of Diana Stokes in January.
Maskaly, who has close ties to the local volleyball community, served in 2008 as the head coach of Los Alamos’ cross-district rival, Española Valley.
After Española Valley’s Sundevils finished third last season, Maskaly, who works at Los Alamos National Laboratory, was looking for something a little closer to home so he didn’t have to drive down to the valley every afternoon.
“It’s great,” he said of his new head coaching gig. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
This won’t be Maskaly’s first stint in the Hilltopper program. He served as the junior varsity coach in 2006 and 2007 before accepting the Sundevils’ top job.
Along with working under Stokes, Maskaly also ran the Northern New Mexico Fusion volleyball club program, a position he’s had to vacate now that he’s accepted the Hilltopper job.
“Several of the girls in the program I coached three years ago,” Maskaly said. “Now they’re seniors. They’re really great kids. The parents are really supportive. It’s going to be a really fun season.”
Maskaly was hired out of an application pool of just two.
Los Alamos athletic director Vicki Nelms readvertised the coaching vacancy on the New Mexico Activities Association website recently to see if anyone else was interested in the position, but she didn’t get any additional bites.
Nelms is generally swimming upstream when it comes to filling coaching vacancies.
“It’s hard when there’s no teaching positions tied with our coaching jobs,” she said. “You can’t just coach and make a living.”
But Los Alamos’ open volleyball job had some extra current to fight against. When Stokes left her position, no less than six other prep volleyball coaching jobs were open in New Mexico in virtually every corner of the state.
That number hasn’t changed much. As of Friday afternoon six schools were searching for head volleyball coaches, including four in the northern part of the state — Coronado, McCurdy, Peñasco and Raton.
Nelms said the prospective volleyball coaches went through the same process she’s used since she became athletic director in 2007. The finalists were interviewed by both an adult and a student panel.
“For the kids, it’s always a learning experience,” Nelms said. “It’s not as easy as they thought to go through the hiring process.”
Stokes served in two separate stints as the head volleyball coach, from 2001-2002 and 2005-2008. She took the Hilltoppers to a state championship match appearance in her first season.
In 2008, Los Alamos finished the season 14-9, winning both the district regular season title and the district championship tournament. The only 2AAAA loss posted by Los Alamos in 2008 came at the hands of Maskaly’s Sundevils.
The Sundevils finished their season under Malasky with a record of 7-13, going 5-3 in district.
He said the big thing he took out of coaching at Española Valley was the experience of not just coaching a club but managing an entire program, which is a challenge beyond what goes on between the lines.
Maskaly said he plans to meet with Nelms soon after spring break — which starts Monday — to work out an open gymnasium schedule for LAHS players.
Los Alamos is slated to return all its players off the 2008 squad except one, setter Jessica Stokes.
Finding a setter will be among the top personnel priorities for Maskaly.
From a program standpoint, Maskaly said he would like to coordinate with his assistants, the middle school and the club-level coaches and try to get everyone on the same page. The more the fundamentals are stressed at the lower levels, he said, the more ahead of the game his players will be at the varsity level.
With his experience at those levels, Malasky feels that goal is very attainable.
“It will be nice to be able to combine those two efforts,” Malasky said. “With club, the younger ones, you can build a good base for the future. It’s really nice to be able to combine those efforts.”