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Salem High calls on Costal to lead

SALEM — Being a first-year coach straight out of college is tough enough under normal circumstances. Salem volleyball coach Kacey Costal is trying to do it during the middle of a pandemic.

“It’s definitely been a challenge so far,” Costal said. “The biggest obstacle has just been the uncertainty of if there will be a season or not, you can’t help but think about it.”

The 2016 Salem grad had just graduated from Geneva College in May when she was hired to replace Sarah Hamilton who took the Salem girls basketball head coaching job. Costal, who led Geneva with 385 kills as a senior and was an All-Presidents’ Athletic Conference first-team selection, never expected to be back at her alma mater so soon.

“I didn’t expect it to happen like this, “Costal said. “I’ve been playing volleyball for the last 10 years and I wasn’t ready to give it up when I left college. This job came open and it just kind of fell into place.”

Costal dove right into leading the Quakers’ open gyms over the summer and said there were no virus-related issues with the team.

“We did a good job following all of the guidelines,” Costal said. “Everything was sanitized regularly and everyone kept their distance. We didn’t have any problems.”

Costal, who hopes to eventually land a full-time teaching position at Salem, said that the small age gap between her and her players should be an asset.

“I think it’s going to help,” Costal said. “I’ve been in their shoes, I have an understanding of some of the things they are going through.”

Costal played for Hamilton as a senior at Salem and the two kept in contact through the last four years. She said her former coach has been a valuable source of advice as she makes the transition.

“We talk all the time,” Costal said. “She’s been a really big help for me. The biggest thing she said was to be confident in who you are as a coach and be confident in your ability.”

Costal said she wants to try and create an upbeat, family atmosphere as a head coach, similar to what she experienced in her playing days.

“I definitely believe in encouraging the players and I want them to encourage each other,” Costal said. “I remember how much fun we had when I played here and how it was one big family. That’s something I want to continue.”

She believes the Quakers have a strong foundation heading into the season with four returning starters from last year’s Div. II district semifinalist and Eastern Buckeye Conference runner-up.

“I think our upperclassmen all have a lot of versatility,” Costal said. “And we have a lot of talented new faces who are going to be competing for playing time.”

Costal and the Quakers breathed a little easier when volleyball was cleared for school vs. school competition last week, but she said they aren’t taking anything for granted.

“My biggest message to them through all of this is that every day we have with each other is a blessing,” Costal said. “They’ve done a great job all summer of being smart and doing their part so we can try and have a season.”

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