1A volleyball — The recent University of North Carolina graduate replaces Vince Swagerty as Watchmen coach

Although boys basketball coach and middle school principal Vince Swagerty stepped in to lead the C.S. Lewis Academy volleyball team to its most successful season in school history, it was never meant to be a long-term solution.

So, this summer, athletic director Steve Wallo once again found himself without a coach and, frankly, not satisfied with the candidates that expressed interest in the job.

When word reached Raeanne Hanks, a former softball player on Wallo’s Oregon Silver Bullets club team, she was interested, but not exactly available. Photo Credit: SETH GORDON - Getting started - New C.S. Lewis volleyball coach Raeanne Hanks instructs a player during practice last week.

Hanks, an all-league pitcher and recent graduate of the University of North Carolina, was committed to play for a club team in Sweden through August and didn’t feel comfortable taking the job if she was going to miss the first two weeks of practice.

Fortunately for everyone involved, Hanks’ season in Sweden was cut short by two weeks, enabling her to return to Oregon and take the job.

“It’s weird the way things seem to happen around here for us,” Wallo said. “Just when you think you’re down, something happens and the big guy looks after us and takes care of us.”

Hanks was an all-league performer in four sports (volleyball, basketball, swimming and softball) at Rainier High School before graduating in 2009. Wallo was eager to get her on board.

“I know her character and I know her value system and everything,” he said. “She fits into our Christian school very well with what her beliefs are. That was a plus. I think having a strong, younger female role model is a plus.”

Hanks is currently taking a year off before she pursues a master’s degree in social work and so cannot commit long-term, but that doesn’t bother Wallo.

“She’s a very talented athlete at just at a point in her life where she’s going to come back and wants to devote herself to this for now,” Wallo said. “I don’t know if this is going to be long term either, but I’m convinced she’ll leave the program better than she found it. I think she can move us in the right direction.”

Hanks was coached by her mother for three years in high school and has long wanted to follow in her footsteps and be a coach, except that she always expected she would coach softball.

“I had another volleyball coach in high school my freshman year and we’re good friends, so I’ve been contacting both of them and asking for drills that might help with certain things,” Hanks said. “It’s handy to have.”

The Watchmen lost most of their starters from the team that advanced to the second round of the 1A state playoffs, including Wichita State recruit Mikaela Raudsepp, but Hanks has been impressed with the team so far.

“They really all have a love of the game and they all want to get better,” Hanks said. “They come in working hard every day and they have fun with it. I really enjoy working with them. It gives me energy as well.”

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