Kayleigh Hunstad isn’t new to the Danville Independent School District or to coaching volleyball, but she is new to the position of high school volleyball coach.
Hunstad is starting her third year as a second and third grade Moderate and Severe Disabilities (MSD) Teacher at Edna L. Toliver Intermediate School. She took over as volleyball coach at John W. Bate Middle School last year. This year, she’s taking on the additional role of coach for the Danville High School team.
Hunstad is a 2011 DHS graduate herself and played volleyball there for three years. She still plays as an adult on a co-ed league in town.
She loves coaching middle school students and is excited to take on the high school level too.
“I absolutely love the middle school age, and that is such a fun age to get them started in volleyball and get them interested in playing a team sport, because a lot of them have never even done any sort of sports,” she said. “As far as the high school goes, coaching to me is more than just volleyball. It’s impacting children’s lives.”
Since she grew up in Danville and lives in town, she can relate to the children because she knows the area. She wants to devote herself to building the volleyball program and create consistency within it, working with children starting on the middle school team and following them through high school. She’s also interested in the high school level because when it comes to some students, she’ll be showing them what it takes to become a collegiate athlete.
She makes a point to connect with students on a personal level, both on and off the court.
“Because I’m around all different types of kids all the time, and I’m going into my seventh year of teaching — in those seven years, especially teaching two different grade levels, I’ve kind of seen everything, if that makes sense, especially teaching special education because you learn really quick how flexible you have to be,” she said, since different children have different needs.
“I take the time to really know the player, on and off the court,” she said. “We do a lot of team bonding, and I try to make sure at the end of each practice that we have a check in — like ‘any comments, questions, concerns?’ I make sure that they know that while yes, I’m their coach and my main job is to coach them, I’m also there for them too. A lot of kids don’t have that, or even if they have it, they don’t feel like they do.”
Hunstad said some fifth graders in the district have the chance to play on the middle school volleyball team. Likewise, some eighth graders can play on the high school team.
“I’m excited to build the program from the beginning, get them as fifth or sixth graders, and being able to follow them through is a big deal to me, to provide them what I didn’t have as a player,” she said.
- Danville Independent Schools
- student athlete