Even Callie Patrick herself was a bit surprised.
With minimal high school volleyball coaching experience to her credit, and with her lone such season being as an assistant, Patrick was named Friday, May 9, as head coach of what's been one of the premier programs in the state, that of Fairfield High School's.
"I felt like I needed maybe a couple more years under my belt, but I know (ex-Concord and current Goshen College coach) Jim Routhier recommended me, which means a lot to me, and I thought, 'Why not?''" Patrick said Friday afternoon.
"I've gotten nothing but support from J.R. and from (several others)," Patrick said, specifically citing outgoing Fairfield coach Carla Herschberger, Fairfield athletic director Mark Hofer and her own high school coach, Laurie Rhoades, "and I'm confident enough in myself that I think we'll be great."
The former Callie Hartman — she married two years ago — is a 2009 Concord graduate and a December 2012 Bethel College grad who assisted at Concord last fall.
An outside hitter both in high school and college, Patrick was named Concord's Outstanding Senior Athlete, was a team MVP and was a two-time All-Northern Lakes Conference pick while with the Minutemen. Then with the Pilots, she was a four-year starter who earned NAIA Scholar Athlete and honorable mention all-league accolades.
Herschberger retired last fall after 13 years with the Falcons that included a 387-80 record, 11 Northeast Corner Conference regular-season crowns, 10 straight sectional titles (an active streak) and six State Finals appearances, among other achievements.
"I'm so excited," Patrick said. "Carla set such a great tradition. I want to continue that and build on the foundation that she set there."
"(Callie) brings a high level of achievement as a player and coach," Hofer said in announcing Patrick's appointment. "Her level of enthusiasm, and her knowledge of volleyball and volleyball instruction, will continue and build on the outstanding Falcon volleyball program led most recently by Carla Herschberger. We are exited for the future of Falcon volleyball under Callie's leadership."
Patrick, who is an autism paraprofessional at Concord Intermediate Center, has been a club coach with the Northern Indiana Volleyball Association.
As it so happens, Patrick becomes the second Concord grad to be named an area high school volleyball head coach in five days, joining 2003 grad Kelly Hale, tabbed May 5 to head up her alma mater.
"We're friends, we've coached together at NIVA — in fact, she coached the 17s and I coached the 16s last year — and we'll definitely be staying in touch now," Patrick said. "We've shot a few texts back and forth about this. It's very exciting for both of us."