Ceres High School varsity girls volleyball leader Darlene Tobler has passed the coaching torch to Kelly Heese.
“It was a hard transition for me to leave,” said Tobler, who guided the Bulldogs to a combined record of 21-35 in Western Athletic Conference play and one Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth during her four-year tenure. “I needed to so I could be a better mom. I feel really good about handing the program over to Kelly. She’s going to be a perfect fit. She’s a great coach. The kids will accept her.”
“I’m looking forward to being a part of their program.”Kelly Heese
“I’m looking forward to being a part of their program,” Heese said. “Everyone on staff has welcomed me with open arms. It should be a pretty smooth transition.”
Heese coached crosstown-rival Central Valley’s varsity girls volleyball team for four years (2012-16).
The Hawks reached unprecedented heights under Heese’s guidance.
Central Valley amassed a 30-23 record in WAC action and qualified for the playoffs three times.
“I’d still love to be at Central Valley but that’s something that is not an option anymore,” Heese said. “I’m extremely excited about this opportunity and very grateful. I missed it (coaching girls high school volleyball) like crazy.”
“We have different coaching styles,” Tobler said. “It doesn’t mean our intentions are. We both have our athletes’ best interests at heart. She values family just as much as I do. She’ll fight tooth and nail for her kids. She’s very loyal.”
Heese inherits a Ceres High girls volleyball program that improved tremendously under Tobler’s direction.
The Bulldogs finished second in the conference standings (9-6) and advanced to the postseason during the 2016-17 school year.
Ceres High had a 5-43 record against conference opponents prior to Tobler’s arrival.
“I’m not as vocal as I used to be because of my health,” said Heese, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) three years ago. “But I still have a voice. MS from day one to the next can be difficult. The last two years, every day keeps getting better and better. Things are so much more under control.”
Heese is thankful Tobler handpicked her to lead the Bulldogs this fall.
“Even though we’ve been rivals in the past, we’ve always had a great relationship,” Heese said. “She’s a good friend of mine.”
“She and I have always had a great relationship,” Tobler added.
Tobler and Heese will continue to coach Ceres High’s and Central Valley’s varsity boys volleyball teams during the springtime.
“Coaching for me is not a job,” Heese said. “It’s a passion and love.”
The 2019 girls volleyball season will get underway in August.
Heese gave returning and prospective Bulldog players the summer off so she could spend more time with her family.
Heese’s mother and grandmother passed away in May.
Both of Heese’s daughters are expecting babies.
“We’ll start the first week of school,” she said. “I’m excited.”