LAGRANGE - The local high school volleyball scene will be without one of its coaching icons next season.
Dave Cross, who has guided Keystone`s fortunes for 22 years, announced his retirement as Wildcats coach Friday.
Cross, 47 and about five years away from full retirement, will continue to be a science teacher and athletic director at Keystone Middle School. He also plans to continue coaching Junior Olympics teams.
"I`m tired and just don`t have the energy to do as I`ve done for so long," Cross said. "It comes down to a lot of time involved (about 11 months a year).
"Keystone has been a great situation for me. The girls have been hard workers with great attitudes. I guess it`s a matter of all good things must come to an end."
Cross owns a 365-166 record at Keystone, including a 289-75 record since 1992. His teams have won 11 conference championships and four district championships. His 2000 team was a regional runner-up. In 1998, Cross earned special mention for the State of Ohio Coaches Award.
When asked what he will miss most about high school coaching, Cross pointed to several things.
"I`m going to miss a lot of friendships," he said. "That includes my coaching colleagues and the kids. I`ll still see a lot of them, especially at Junior Olympics matches.
"I`ll miss seeing the girls who work extra hard to get more playing time. It`s always nice to see them stick with it and come out on top."
Cross named three Keystone matches that probably are among his most memorable.
"I`ll always remember our second match with Buckeye this season," said Cross. "Kari Kincannon was hurt right away in the first game. The rest of the team persevered and made sure that we won an outright Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division championship.
"In that 2000 regional runner-up finish, we played defending state champion Huron before a crowd of at least 1,000 fans. We took them to a third game before losing.
"I`ll never forget the first time that we beat Elyria West. It was 1992 and they had beaten us in each match, starting in 1986."
Cross also wanted to express his appreciation for some great assistant coaches.
Current Brookside coach Ted Whitsel was a longtime assistant. Doug Currence, head coach at Valley Forge, and Patriots assistant Jim Horvath sat on the sidelines with Cross.
Three former Wildcat players have had stints as assistants, including current junior varsity coach Nikki Poznako and current freshman coach Amanda Myers. Amanda Hlavsa was freshman coach for four years before earning her college degree and obtaining a teaching position and helping with the junior high programs at Black River.
"It`s been a lot of fun and very enjoyable," Cross said. "It`s always nice to see the girls come back for visits or to help out with camps."
Contact Jerry Henson at 329-7135