Volleyball coach Gwen Egbert is following her three All-Nebraska players out the door at Papillion-La Vista South.
The Papillion-La Vista school district announced Friday that Egbert will retire at the end of this school year. She has taught and coached in the district for the past 26 years and has guided the two high schools — first Papillion-La Vista and later Papillion-La Vista South — to six state championships and three national championships.
“It was a tough decision,” Egbert said. “But it’s time to move on to new challenges and new goals.”
Egbert was named The World-Herald girls high school coach of the year in 2003 after leading the Monarchs to 13 straight state tournament appearances and their third consecutive Class A crown. She left to begin the volleyball program at the new high school, Papio South.
She continued that success with the Titans, leading the team to state runner-up finishes in 2008 and 2009. The latter squad was led by three freshmen — Kelly Hunter and sisters Kadie and Amber Rolfzen.
Papio South then put together a dominating three-year run under Egbert. The Titans won three straight Class A titles and compiled a record of 119-1, losing only to national power Louisville (Ky.) Assumption last September at a sold-out triangular featuring the teams ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 3 nationally.
The Rolfzens, who earned All-Nebraska honors all four years, graduated early in December to begin their volleyball careers for the Huskers. Hunter, a three-time All-Nebraska selection who will graduate in May, also is headed to NU.
“I guess you could call it the end of an era,” Egbert said. “But now the school can start a new one, and I have confidence that they’ll find a good coach to take over.”
Papio South Athletic Director Jeff Johnson said a coaching search will begin immediately.
Egbert said she informed her players Friday morning.
“It was hard,” she said. “I think the team was upset and maybe a little shocked. But they’ll get through it. I told them I still loved them.”
Egbert, who is eighth all time in victories in the state, will continue to coach in the Nebraska Juniors club program. She said she might pursue a collegiate coaching position if the right one becomes available, and also wouldn’t rule out a possible return someday to the high school ranks.
“To come back and coach at high school, it would really have to be an outstanding offer,” she said. “But I never say never.”
Egbert said her fondest memory will be of the players she has coached.
“I’ll remember how hard they worked and how much they cared about the program,” she said. “That will always stay with me.”
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