by Jay Phillips
Photo courtesy: Michael Snyder, NWF Daily News
Pensacola State College (PSC) has a long tradition of winning athletic contests, no matter what the sport or location. Recently, PSC's alumni dominance has been expanded, courtesy of current Niceville Volleyball Head Coach and former PSC-standout, Karson Hinds.
Hinds was a do-it-all at PSC under Head Coach Chris Laird. Laird explained that she was brought to the team to be a libero - basically the all-time defender- but later was moved to setter and never looked back.
"To be able to go to a new position, and such a vital position, in such a short period of time and to find success so quickly, is a big deal. She was an All-Conference player and was a big reason we had so much success," said Laird.
Laird mentioned that the same mindset that allowed her to transition positions so seamlessly has helped her in coaching.
Hinds also had some head coaching experience with Fuel Volleyball Club and had some great coaching mentors before arriving at Niceville. Coach Laird explained people like John Key, the previous head coach of Fuel, helped Hinds a lot along the way.
Some of the teams that Hinds was a part of contributed in making PSC a volleyball powerhouse and set the precedence for PSC volleyball to be such a fun spectator sport. Hinds did not only translate her ability to learn a new position as a player to the coaching spectrum, but she brought her winning attitude from PSC along with her.
Hinds and her team finished the season comfortably inside the FHSAA top-25. They were ranked number 12 in the state with a record of 19-5. The Eagles had a nail biting 3-2 loss in the Regional Quarterfinals against Lincoln High School of Tallahassee, Florida.
Although Niceville's season came to an end, Hinds has created quite a team at Niceville for her first year as head coach there. She has players committed to major Division-1 schools such as Georgia Tech and Minnesota.
"I would be very surprised if they don't go all the way at some point," Laird said referencing the potential Hinds has as Niceville's head coach.
"I plan on staying at Niceville for a while and turning this program into something extremely special, like it was for me when I played here from 2006 to 2010," Hinds said.
Hinds has brought her experience as a player with her to the head coaching job at Niceville. The same place she played high school volleyball and only a few hours down the road from PSC. "The volleyball talent in the area made me a much better player [at PSC] and a better coach," said Hinds, "It is so amazing to go from beating great teams like Miami-Dade to coaching a team with so much talent."
Hinds knows what it's like to always have an opponent that is bigger, faster and stronger than her. Bringing that attitude to Niceville has allowed them to go toe-to-toe with anyone they might play.
Hinds plans to continue the tradition of winning volleyball games that she helped create at PSC, and with the support and resources she has, it looks like she will.