By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- The South Dakota School of Mines women’s volleyball coach Doug Tabbert has announced his resignation of the head coaching position after four seasons at the helm.
Tabbert has accepted the assistant coaching position for the University of Nebraska-Kearney, an NCAA Division II school that has a rich history in volleyball, under the direction of Rick Squiers.
“I’ll be the assistant coach there and also have some teaching duties,” Tabbert said of his new position. “As far as the program, UNK is one of the elite NCAA Division II volleyball program in the country.”
“I am really happy for coach Tabbert to have the opportunity to go to the position he is going to,” said South Dakota School of Mines Athletics Director Hugh Welsh. “He gets a chance to work with one of his mentors and I think that we would all like an opportunity like that. This, I am sure, will open a lot of doors for Doug down the road.”
The South Dakota School of Mines has named Beth Honaker, who served as the Hardrockers’ assistant coach in 2006 as the new SDM volleyball head coach.
“Beth was a real positive addition to our program this past year,” Welsh said. “Her ability to relate to the players and to bring another philosophy to the team is very exciting. Because of the things she did for the volleyball program this last year, it was in the best interest of the program to move her up into the head position.”
Tabbert came to Rapid City in April of 2003 where he took over a program that needed rebuilding. When he started, the Hardrockers hadn’t had an active head coach for five months which had a direct effect on the returning players as well as the recruiting class. With just five returnees and four freshmen coming in, the program was kind of up in the air.
Tabbert was essentially starting from scratch and, in his four-year stint, was able to make the Hardrocker program much more competitive in the Dakota Athletic Conference.
“We’ve doubled the size of the program. When I started we played with eight kids and now we have 18 in the program,” Tabbert said. “But the most important thing is that our talent level is so much better now than when I got here.”
After the 2006 campaign, the Hardrockers seemed to be headed in the right direction as the squad won more games then the previous three combined.
“When Doug came here four years ago he inherited a program that was really in disarray. He worked very hard to recruit the type of student-athlete that would be successful in the classroom and on the court,” Welsh said. “I think last year’s team indicated the direction the program is going.”
Tabbert said the main reason for the turnaround is that the program is once again starting to get a higher quality of athletes which in turn makes the team more competitive and
---continued---able to compete in the DAC. And in the past four years, one of the elite Hardrocker volleyball players has been All American Megan Barnes
“That’s pretty special having a kid like that,” Tabbert said. “We were so limited, so predictable and so one dimensional (in 2003). To have an athlete become a third-team All American --- that was pretty neat.”
Tabbert was able to build off of that and in four years’ time, gave the Lady ‘Rockers a winning season and a trip back to postseason play – entering the DAC tournament for the first time since 2001.
“People have to respect us in the conference again. A couple years ago, we weren’t a threat,” Tabbert said. “This year we had success in defeating conference schools and were able to be competitive in the DAC --- that was also a high mark.”
Other highlights for Tabbert was going 2-1 to NCAA Div. II teams and in 2005 beating the, then undefeated and regionally ranked, Southern Nazerene Crimson Storm during a tournament in Kansas.
“I have a lot of respect for this institution and what it stands for. I think it was pretty neat to be apart of this place and hopefully have made some contributions to it. It’s unique, but also a high-quality institution,” Tabbert said.
Before coaching the Hardrockers, Tabbert was the head volleyball coach at Hastings College in Nebraska (NAIA) and before that, the Perry, Kan., native, was head coach at Methodist College in Fayetteville, N.C.
Honaker, originally from Walkerton, Ind., served as the SDM assistant volleyball coach for one season. The 2007 tour will mark her first as a head coach at the college level. Previously she was head coach at Gwinn High School (Mich.) for four years. She has a Masters of Science degree from Northern Michigan University where she played for the NCAA Div. II Wildcats as an outside and rightside hitter.
As a coach, Honaker said the main thing she wants to instill into her players is the team concept.
“I think the biggest thing will be trying to teach the girls that volleyball is not just a hobby, it’s almost like a job. There are going to be times that they might not want to go to practice or might not want to travel that weekend, but being apart of a team is being apart of something that’s a whole lot bigger than themselves,” Honaker said. “For the most part, it’s getting everybody on the same page. If we figure out how to do everything we need to do as a team then we are going to be a heck of a lot better.”
Honaker added that she wants to take the winning season the Hardrockers had in 2006, use it as a stepping stone for even better things to come.
“I think the girls got a taste of what it’s like to be a winning team. In the past few years they knew they weren’t looked upon as a big threat from other teams in the conference. That’s going to change --- actually I think it already has,” Honaker said. Tabbert agreed, saying the team is turned in the right direction and the Hardrockers should thrive under the new leadership.
---continued---“I think (Honaker) will do very well. I also think the players will respond well to her,” Tabbert said. “When I think about the future of the program, I am excited for the players that are here now because they should keep getting better and better.”
The transition should be an easy one for Honaker as she already knows the players and the system and with every starter returning, the 2007 year is shaping up to be the best yet.
“Looking over the past 15 plus years, there has been a tradition at the School of Mines for volleyball. (The Hardrockers) were the top of the conference and they were competing with (the likes of) Dickinson State and the University of Mary. My big thing is to somehow tap back into that tradition and bring it back. I think we have the caliber of players now and we are getting the caliber of players so that we could be back up there.”
Honaker will also continue to serve as the assistant SDM indoor and outdoor track coach.
The Hardrockers’ season begins Aug. 24 with the Rocky Mountain Tournament in Billings, Mont.
South Dakota School of Mines former head volleyball coach Doug Tabbert (center) talks strategy with his Lady Hardrocker team during a Dakota Athletic Conference match against Dakota State this past season. Tabbert announced his resignation recently. Assistant SDM volleyball coach Beth Honaker has been promoted to lead the SDM netters in 2007. Photo by Brad Blume
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