Alum Samantha Richner will coach Whitman-Hanson’s girls’ volleyball team.
Shortly after wrapping up her athletic and academic career at Whitman-Hanson Regional High in 2013, Samantha Richner then shifted her focus on trying to wiggle her way back into her alma mater. She has.
After four years at Bridgewater State, Richner was added to W-H’s track staff last spring and then as a cross country coach this past fall. Now, she’s been named W-H’s head girls’ volleyball coach, succeeding Ashley Balbian after two seasons.
“I’m very excited about it,” said Richner, who spent the fall of 2016 and 2017 coaching volleyball at Middleboro High. “It’s awesome to be back in Whitman-Hanson, where I grew up, and it’s a beautiful school with good facilities. I’m just excited for it.”
While she was a four-year varsity volleyball player for the Panthers, Richner will be the first to admit she wasn’t known for her prowess on the court, but rather the track. That continued at BSU, where she smashed program records on the track. However, she said all that running will work to her advantage.
“There’s a lot that I learned competing at Bridgewater that I wish I had known when I was in high school,” said Richner, who is a staff member at Whitman Middle School. “Like what’s good and what’s not good to eat and like how to stay in shape. I have a passion not just for volleyball but toward athletics and fitness and nutrition and just how to be a healthy athlete.”
Ironically enough, Richner said what draws her to volleyball the most is what makes it so different from track.
“I like volleyball because it’s a team sport,” she said. “I come from primarily a track-dominant background, so if I have a bad day in track, that’s just on me. But volleyball you have to rely on one another and that’s what I like most about coaching it.”
Richner is confident she’ll have no problem relating to her players.
“I know the facilities, the gym, what it’s like going to school there, and I know a lot of the teachers still and I know what they’re going through,” she said. “When I was at Middleboro, it was still relatable because I played the sport but it wasn’t there. Like this is their home and this is my home.”
So, what will be the characteristics of a Samantha Richner-coached team?
“High energy, exciting, driven and hard working,” she said.
The Panthers finished 8-11 last season.
“I want to bring consistency to the program,” explained Richner, who said she played for four different volleyball coaches at W-H. “My goal for them is, well obviously I want them to win and go to the tournament and even win that, but I also want consistency – to be someone they can be comfortable with. I know it’s going to be an adjustment with another head coach coming in, so long term I want consistency and to grow the program.
“I love athletics, so if I can coach I still want to be a part of it.”