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Kaneland finds veteran coach for girls volleyball

Kerri McCastland missed being around girls volleyball so much that last year she picked up officiating duties at various high school matches.

Kaneland was among the schools she saw during her short-lived officiating career, and she now will get to know the Knights on a much more intimate level, having been approved as Kaneland's new coach at Monday's school board meeting.

McCastland, 42, has coached volleyball for 19 years, including previous varsity gigs in Illinois at Oak Forest, Andrew, Plainfield South and Plainfield North, where she remains a physical education, health and driver's education teacher.

A Geneva resident, McCastland's husband, Tim, teaches at Bell-Graham Elementary in St. Charles. She said she was looking to break back into the coaching ranks at a school closer to home, and considered Kaneland a strong match.

"I believe in what their community is doing both in education and in athletics," McCastland said. "I was attracted to it being a one-high school district, which was much different than where I was coming from (in Plainfield)."

McCastland has a strong track record at her previous stops, including a 2003 Andrew team that had a late lead against Joliet Catholic before suffering what she lamented as a "catastrophic" loss that denied her team a trip downstate in a hotly contested supersectional.

"To say you've won every place you've been is kind of blanketly pompous, but if you go back and search, that's exactly what has happened," McCastland said.

McCastland, 42, stepped away at Plainfield North in 2009 as she and her husband welcomed their son, Jake, who is now 4.

"It took me three years and five miscarriages to have my son, so when you get that opportunity, that was going to be my only focus. … I wasn't going to let anything else take that away," she said.

McCastland, who also has extensive club coaching experience, already has been around her new team in summer league play, and credited former coach Todd Weimer for building a quality program. Weimer, still the boys volleyball coach at St. Charles North, stepped down for family reasons this summer.

McCastland said competition will be intense later this month leading up to the season, especially considering her limited familiarity with some of the girls in the program.

"It's going to be very hard tryouts," she said.

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