EAST?LIVERPOOL?- When Bob Shansky began his volleyball coaching career at East Liverpool High School in 1976, he was one of the first men to coach the sport in this part of Ohio.
With the Potters' win on Thursday night at Harrison Central, Shansky earned his 500th career coaching victory.
"We had an end-of-the-school staff gathering in 1976," Shansky said. "The principal walked over and asked if I would like to be the volleyball coach. I told him I had taken a volleyball coaching course in college at Penn State. That was all that was said. A few weeks later, I received a contract in the mail to be the volleyball coach. That was how I found out that I was the volleyball coach."
East Liverpool had just started playing interscholastic volleyball in 1975, going 6-6. Shansky's first year resulted in a 9-1 record.
"Those first few years were a true learning experience," Shansky said. "I had come to East Liverpool as a first-year teacher in 1975. I was still getting my feet wet in the classroom and now I was a head coach."
Shansky noted that he received a great deal of help from other local coaches.
"Judy Gregory, who was the coach at Crestview, and Debbie Boyd at Southern Local were great at exchanging ideas with me. They were such a big help."
Volleyball has changed quite a bit from the early days of Shansky's coaching career
"The girls wore those big shorts that were almost like bloomers and big bulky shirts," Shansky said. "In those days, the setter was in the front row and tried to stay in the middle of the court. Teams played a 3-3 alignment. Most teams were still serving underhand. We were one of the first teams in this area to serve overhand. People thought that we played too rough because we served overhand."
High school volleyball wasn't nearly as popular in the '70s and '80s as it is now.
"We were lucky to have 20 people at a volleyball match. Now, we have good-sized crowds," said the successful coach. "The first time we went to the regionals there couldn't have been more than 25 people in the stands. In 2011, it was standing room only at Zanesville when we played in the regional finals. There was so much noise in the gym that day. It was a great experience."
It takes time to build a successful program. The Potters volleyball program has won 10 Ohio Valley Athletic Conference championships and two district crowns.
"I tell our young coaches that you can't build a program overnight," said Shansky who also serves as the school's athletic director. "You have to put in the time and effort to build a successful program. It's important to remember that the program is about the kids. It's not about the coach."
Shansky was quick to point out the support he has had at home from his wife Ann and their five daughters.
"I couldn't have done it without them. My oldest daughter kept the scorebook. Our other four daughters played for me. That was special. Ann has been so supportive of me being involved in coaching. I don't know what I would do without her."
Shansky is very appreciative of the support that the program has received.
"We have always had the support of the administration, both the superintendents and principals. We have a lot of teacher support. I have had great assistant coaches."
"I didn't set out with any particular goals for myself as the volleyball coach," said Shansky. "We have been able to develop an attitude among our players that they are expected to win. We have had some great young ladies come through our program. I still really love teaching the game."