When Melissa Welch decided to coach Beaufort High School volleyball again, it wasn't with the intention of patching a position with considerable turnover in recent years.
She and her husband, Tom, want to commit to the program. Melissa responded to an inquiry from athletics director Jerry Linn asking who on the staff might be interested in available coaching positions.
With her children grown -- the oldest is a senior at Beaufort High -- she decided this was the year to return.
"We decided if we were going to do it, we're going to do it right," said Melissa, who is a Beaufort High psychology teacher. "We've got the time and the energy and desire to put into it."
Melissa coached Beaufort High volleyball for eight years, stopping 15 years ago, and has most recently coached a 15-and-under club volleyball team with her husband.
The couple dated when both attended Graceland University in Iowa, where Tom played volleyball, and then lost touch until reconnecting five years ago on Facebook. They were married in 2011 and both maintain a common interest in volleyball.
Melissa said she plans to handle most of the administrative duties for the team, while Tom will lead practices. She said neck surgery to repair injuries apparently suffered playing volleyball limit her role on the court.
"It works really well for us," she said. "He's a very active coach."
The coaches plan to build the feeder programs at Lady's Island Middle School and Beaufort Middle School, each of which are coached by Melissa's former players, and feel they have a quality junior varsity coach in Donna Clark.
Melissa said about 40 players participated during summer workouts, with tryouts starting next week.
"So we've given them plenty of time to learn the game the way we want them to learn it and get used to us as coaches and our style, because every coach is different," she said.
Beaufort High adding girls lacrosse
Beaufort High athletics director Jerry Linn fielded similar questions the past couple years from members of a Beaufort boys lacrosse club team.
"When can we start a school program?" they wanted to know.
Linn told them that fielding a boys team would not work under Title IX, which says the ratio of male and female athletes should be similar to the breakdown of the school's population. But Linn solicited feedback from girls interested in playing and received pages of names.
Beaufort High's lacrosse program will launch this coming school year, with a coach to be determined. He said he has received interest from a couple potential candidates within the school district.
"If I can't get a coach, I might have to delay it," said Linn, who is also searching for a girls golf coach. "But we will have a program."
Follow assistant sports editor Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.