Most would call it the end of an era as Exeter-Milligan head coach Darcy White along with her long-time assistant Laura Kroll have stepped away from coaching volleyball this year.
The duo have been coaching together at Exeter-Milligan since 2005. White had coached at Exeter, Milligan and McCool Junction prior to being chosen to head Exeter-Milligan’s team. Previously Kroll had coached basketball at Milligan.
White chose to step away this year for many reasons.
“My energy was lacking. The girls deserve someone who has the energy to give them and to put into it that I don’t feel like I gave the girls last year,” she said. “With Katherine (her youngest daughter) leaving, this is probably a good time.”
White also knew that Kroll had decided to stop coaching.
“I really didn’t want to do it without her,” she said.
Kroll moved to the administrative side of education becoming elementary principal in 2011. In 2016, she became the K-12 principal which limited her time even more.
“I felt like I was having to have other people cover for me,” Kroll said. “I felt like volleyball is almost the whole semester which is half of the school year. Teachers were needing some extra help and I was at volleyball practice. I wasn’t doing justice in either of those positions.”
The two had some memorable moments together and when questioned, both immediately seized on the 2017 season when the numbers for the program were dangerously low.
Kroll said they left a school board meeting knowing they only had seven girls committed to the team.
“The board made the decision we wouldn’t co-op. We were nervous but then it turned out fine,” Kroll said. “We ended up with 10 girls and with that whole uncertainty and having such young girls, to win the state championship and sweep Ewing was amazing.”
White also talked about that season and said that she saved the email from team member Katie Mounce who volunteered to join the team even though she hadn’t played volleyball since junior high. She commended Mounce for her selflessness and school pride in committing to play volleyball that season. White and Kroll both got a little emotional about that incredible season and especially about the contributions and the commitment of all the girls to be able to win the state championship with just 10 team members.
Although they won’t be coaching together this fall, White will continue to be involved in the volleyball program at the junior high level at Exeter-Milligan. She has spent 25 years coaching the junior high team, but took a three-year hiatus from coaching and now looks forward to being involved at that level of the sport.
Kroll was very positive about White stepping into this new position.
“I like the fact that she is doing junior high because that is where you build the foundation of your program,” she said.
As for advice to the coaches that are filling their shoes, Kroll opted to give advice to the players.
“I want them to work as hard for any coach in club or college or wherever because they are the ones that win games and they create the culture. Continue on that with that culture and work hard for whoever your coach is,” she said.
“Create an environment that makes the girls work to reach their potential and strive to become better every day,” White said to the new coaching staff. “It’s the coaches’ job to help kids realize their potential.”
White and Kroll definitely helped Exeter-Milligan student athletes reach their potential. During their tenure, Exeter-Milligan won five state championships, along with one runner-up and numerous conference and district championships.
This year, White was a finalist for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association national coach of the year and was selected by the Nebraska Coaches Association as the volleyball coach of the year in 2012 for the 2011-2012 season.