Claire Hermie takes over KHS volleyball program

After spending two years coaching the Kewanee freshmen and two more coaching the Boiler Girls’ sophomore squad, Claire Hermie will take the reigns at the varsity level.

Hermie was hired at last month’s Kewanee board meeting to replace Casie Douglas, who resigned from the position in April. Douglas was the head coach for the previous five seasons and had a cumulative record of 77-88, including a 20-win season in the fall of 2016.

Hermie, a 2009 Wethersfield High School graduate, played collegiate volleyball for four years at Monmouth College and was part of a conference championship team her sophomore year. 

“I really enjoyed playing in high school and college and really enjoy my time teaching others the game of volleyball,” she said.

Hermie, who graduated from Monmouth in 2013 with a degree in biology and education, is a chemistry and physical science teacher at KHS. The rest of her coaching staff will include Maria Sakellaris as the sophomore coach and Hannah Bridgewater as the freshman coach.

“I’m super excited. I know I’m pretty young, but I’m very excited to have the opportunity to be the head coach at Kewanee and get in the gym this summer and get things going,” Hermie said. “We’ve had a lot of good days so far a week-and-a-half into the summer. We’ve had good attendance in the weight room and had about 22 girls in the gym for our first practice.”

The new coach was a second-team All-MWC middle hitter as a sophomore in college and led the team in blocks in 2009, 2011 and 2012. She also has the 4th most total blocks in Monmouth history (323).

“It’s a much faster pace in college so there was definitely a transition coming back from playing college into coaching high school,” she said. “But it really helped with fundamentals. They really broke things down in college and it helped with teaching girls the correct footwork and correct passing form.”

The Boiler Girls will be in action this summer on Wednesday nights at Geneseo High School and will attend a camp at Bradley University in July.

Hermie credits Kari Shimmin, who just completed her 20th season as the Monmouth College head coach, as someone who had a big influence in her learning the game of volleyball.

“She was awesome. She was a different style of coach; she doesn’t scream or yell at you,” stated Hermie. “She was very encouraging and I really enjoyed playing for someone like that. If she was mad at you, you knew it, but it wasn’t because she was screaming at you.”

You can expect to see a similar coaching style from Hermie this fall on the sidelines of Boiler Girl contests.

“I’m pretty even-keeled,” she said. “Screaming and yelling I don’t think works for anybody anymore these days. I think if you can explain to the kids what it is you need them to do it helps them respond in the best way. So I don’t think you’ll see me screaming at anyone on the sidelines this year.”

“I want people to come to games this year and see our kids having fun and working hard,” she added.