NEW CASTLE Matt Curts got the call from new New Castle athletic director Shane Osting a little less than a month ago. Osting was looking for a volleyball coach and was reaching out to local club directors asking for names to possibly contact.
Curts, director of the local WAVE club, passed along some names, but something about it stuck with him.
“Then I started to think about, you know, I was a head coach before,” Curts said. “And, hey, it’s my time to get back in the game here. So I chose to apply for the job as well.”
He was hired Monday, bringing a hefty resume to a job that has seen its share of instability the past few years. Curts replaces Mike Dodrill, who took the job at Burris.
Curts has not been a head coach for the past few years, but he’s been deeply involved in the game for a long time. He spent nearly a decade at the helm of Randolph Southern, building a program with little history and success into a squad that won three sectionals from 2007-9 (he departed after the first two).
He then spent two years as an assistant at Yorktown, one as head coach of Union City, then was hired to teach at Wilson Middle School in Muncie, where he’s coached volleyball and girls basketball.
He’s also coached with the WAVE since 1994, been director for the past five years and been involved with the sport on the state level.
“He’s coached high school before, had great success with a smaller school,” Osting said. “Built it, bottom up. His knowledge of the game, his dedication and commitment he’s shown. He’s been part of the ICGSA and been chairman of volleyball.
“Just felt like he really had the knowledge and experience, that we wanted him to be part of the Trojan family. “
Osting added there will be a “meet the coaches” night for the volleyball program at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the high school cafeteria.
Curts, who will continue teaching at in Muncie, has a chance to provide some continuity for a program that will be breaking in its third new coach in four seasons. That started when Alan Davis, who led the team to a 2007 state title, departed after the 2011 season.
Randy Gardner took over, produced a dominant first season with state Gatorade Player of the Year Lauryn Gillis, but he was suspended and ultimately departed in the midst of the 2013 season. Dodrill, his assistant, took over, leading the Trojans to a sectional title and spot in a regional. But after Gillis graduated, the team slipped to 19-15 last fall and saw a three-year run of sectional titles snapped.
Curts said he is excited to take over a program with such a storied tradition (25 sectionals ranks ninth all-time), and he inherits a squad in the midst of transition. The Trojans said goodbye to their top hitter (Payton Anderson), top backline player (Brianna Heffernan) and top setter (Kiley Lingenfelter) off a team that featured no juniors.
But perhaps that’s not the worst spot for a new coach, with a group that’s still moldable.
When he got the call from Osting, it stirred the desire to get back into the game. Now he’s already started in on offseason work with the team and started getting an impression of what he’ll start with taking over the storied program.
“We have a very young team,” Curts said. “We have zero seniors. We’re stacked with freshmen, sophomores and juniors. We have a lot of growth to do. We have a lot of positive players, a lot of girls that are very coachable. I’m looking forward to that.”