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Honl receives national honors
CCHS head volleyball coach Rosie Honl was recognized as co-national high school volleyball coach of the year by prepvolleyball.com
Coach Rosie Honl pictured above with CCHS varsity players Kayla Hamilton (left) and Elsa Harris (right) has coached in Crook County since 1996 where she has led the Cowgirls to seven consecutive state championships.
January 31, 2013
On any given night, you can find Rosie Honl on a volleyball court somewhere in Prineville.
At the age of 62, when most people are starting to slow down, the always-enthusiastic Honl is still going full-speed ahead. Not only has Honl led the Cowgirls to seven consecutive state titles, in the off season she is the director and one of the coaches for the Rimrock Volleyball Club.
That energy and enthusiasm was rewarded earlier this week when Honl was recognized by prepvolleyball.com as co-national high school volleyball coach of the year.
“She’s one of a kind,” said Joel Kent, a local attorney, who coaches the 18s National team for Rimrock. “She’s a bundle of energy and she simply has an energy and passion for the game that is unrivaled by others. When most coaches sleep, she goes over stats. When most coaches rest, she takes the time to work in the gym with individuals needing extra help.”
Previously, Honl was named Oregon Class 4A volleyball coach of the year despite not being nominated for the award. The statewide and national honors come despite not earning Intermountain Hybrid recognition.
Honl is in elite company as she accepts the honor. Joining her as co-national coach of the year is Gwen Egbert from Papillion-La Vista South High School in Nebraska. Egbert has won three consecutive Nebraska large school state championships. During that stretch, she has compiled a combined record of 122-1. She recently announced her retirement after 26 years as a head coach. All told, she has won 700 matches and six state championships.
By contrast, Honl is a relative newcomer to the high school coaching ranks. She didn’t start coaching until she was in her 40s, and the 2012 season was her 17th as a head coach. After four years as the head coach at Lincoln High School, Honl arrived in Prineville for the 1996 season. Once in Prineville, it took three years before the team began to win matches. Since then, the team has became a regular at the state playoffs. She has won 384 matches since coming to Prineville. However, it wasn’t until Oregon went from four to six classifications seven years ago that her teams really took off.
“It took me three years before I got this team to win a game,” Honl said. “They had to change their mindset. They were walking into a gym thinking of themselves as losers instead of winners.”
Honl concentrated on teaching basic fundamentals, and even brought in a sports psychologist to help change her players’ mindset. The strategy worked as Honl has developed a juggernaut of a program that competes well, even against teams from much larger schools.
In 2012, the team won two major tournaments, finished second at two more, and went undefeated in the Intermountain Hybrid League despite those matches coming against larger schools. At West Linn, during the final tournament of the regular season, Crook County knocked off eventual 6A state champion Jesuit. The team then rolled through the state tournament without dropping a set.
“I’ve been surrounded by magnificent athletes and a lot of parental support over the years,” Honl modestly says when asked about her success. “They are the ones that have the genes. I just gave them the technical advice.”
Her players are quick to disagree.
“She deserves it more than anybody else I know,” said Makayla Lindburg, a three-time Class 4A player of the year. “I’m happy to be one of her players and to have learned from her. I don’t think she would have talented athletes if it wasn’t for her and her coaching staff.”
“I think it was a great opportunity for her and it is well deserved,” adds fellow player Hannah Troutman, a first team all state selection. “She works her butt off for the program. She works with all the younger kids and she does it for free. She puts her heart into it just for the love of the game.”
Honl is quick to credit the group of assistant coaches that she has surrounded herself with for much of the team’s success. She mentioned all of her assistants, but made a special point of talking about Kent, who was once a Crook County High School assistant, and has helped coach at Rimrock since 1997.
“I wish I could give the award to everybody that helps with the program,” she said. “But say something about Joel. What he does with the kids is amazing. He fine tunes them and he works on their college things. He just does tons of things for them.”
Honl doesn’t just coach Crook County athletes. The Rimrock Volleyball Club has players from throughout Central Oregon, and her annual team camp attracts teams from all over Oregon, as well as Washington and Idaho. The Rimrock Nationals team placed 38th at the national tournament last summer, and scores of Rimrock players have gone on to play NCAA Division I volleyball.
However, when Lindburg enrolls at the University of Portland next fall, she will be Honl’s first Crook County player to earn a Division I scholarship.
“You can’t replicate Rosie,” Kent said. “Her smile and love of life and the game is contagious. She is a master of squeezing the potential out of every team and bringing joy and success to those she coaches. She focuses on skill and attitude and ability and after seven straight years, she still focuses on team and getting it done over flash. She is the first to pass recognition on to her players and assistants, but it is she who is truly deserving of praise.”