Karen Chisum has held the reigns as coach at Texas State for 32 years and has compiled 749 wins in her career. She is the sixth winningest active head coach in NCAA Division I volleyball.
JC: What was your first introduction to the sport of volleyball?
KC: This goes way back but when I was in high school, volleyball was a spring sport and so was tennis. I was a good tennis player. So, we couldn’t play both, but my sister played. I didn’t get to play volleyball in high school, and I came to Texas State and played tennis and softball. When I got out, my first job was here in San Marcos at Goodnight Middle School, and we had to coach everything. I got very interested in volleyball. My coaching experience is a lot different than a lot of the coaches out there, and it was through books, mentoring, all of those things—not as a player.
JC: When did you realize you wanted to coach?
KC: I knew from day-one that I wanted to be a teacher. Originally, I thought I wanted to teach math and just coach, but after I took several math courses I realized that I didn’t want to be in a classroom all day. I wanted to be in the gym. I wanted to put shorts on, and I wanted to move. So, it came early. I’ve known forever.
JC: What would you say is the most rewarding part about coaching?
KC: The kids. There is no doubt about it. The relationships you form with the student athletes. Every kid has touched my life in a certain way, and I’ve touched most of theirs. I just want to be a positive influence, help them grow, help them mature and help them become good productive citizens when they leave Texas State. It’s an all-encompassing program. A lot of programs make it just about volleyball, and that’s okay. They are going to make them the best volleyball players that they possibly can. I want to do that, but I also want them to know that education is number one. What they do outside of the classroom, outside of the court, the way you carry yourself, the way you represent your family and the way you represent Texas State University is huge.
JC: What is your favorite/most rewarding part about being a coach?
KC: Wins. The competition. I hate losing, and most coaches feel that way. Number one is the student athlete though. They come in here, and we sit and talk. If I can help them get through some of those adverse moments, it’s rewarding, and also to hear the good things that go on.
JC: Anything specific to the culture of San Marcos that is rewarding?
KC: Small town. I love it. I still, as I’m recruiting, say that Texas State may have 35,000 students, but it still has that small campus atmosphere. Everything is right up on the hill. The faculty, for the most part, get to know you. I still say it’s a family atmosphere. I run a family program, and I really hope that we never stray away from that.
Follow Jordan Cole on Twitter @TXStatesman