There is a changing of the guard in Kiln at Hancock High School in the volleyball program.
Hancock Athletic Director Jamie Sisco has announced that Lynsie Byrd Gayden has been named the head volleyball coach for the 2019-20 academic year pending board approval on May 20.
Gayden takes over for Rick Rechtien who had mentored the program for the last four seasons. Rechtien led the Hawks to a four-year record of 109-32 with four division titles, two state finals appearances and the 2016 Class III state championship.
Gayden prepped at Ocean Springs High School and graduated in 2013. She played two years of volleyball for the Lady Greyhounds under Amanda Bailey while also playing basketball for then-head coach Jamie Sisco, and ran track and field for Ocean Springs doing the mile, discus and shot put. During her prep career, Gayden helped lead the Lady Greyhounds to a 51-18 record and the 2012 division championship. In 2011, Gayden was part of the Lady Greyhounds team that finished second to Hancock in the division and advanced to the playoffs where Ocean Springs bounced the Lady Hawks from the postseason with a 3-0 sweep in the second round. Ocean Springs lost to Tupelo in the third round in five games.
In 2012, the Lady Greyhounds won the division title and advanced to the postseason where they again pushed Hancock out of the playoffs in the second round in five games. Ocean Springs lost in the third round to DeSoto Central in four games.
After graduation, Gayden played two years of collegiate volleyball for Birmingham-Southern. She later completed her degree with Colorado State University.
Hancock athletic director Jamie Sisco commented, "Hancock is very excited to welcome Lynsie Byrd Gayden to our school district. We are fired up to have someone with her volleyball pedigree and overall athletic background on our staff. She is a great person who will be a solid influence on our student athletes."
Gayden, a first-year head coach, inherits a talented squad at Hancock, one that advanced to the Final Four in Class III last year.
Gayden commented, "I am extremely excited to begin this next step with Hancock High School. I am familiar with the school and the type of athlete they have here. I have not met the team as of yet but I am looking forward to conducting tryouts and getting to know the girls. I know the girls have a strong fundamental foundation using the Gold Medal Squares. Once we have tryouts, I will know more what area we will need to focus on prior to the season."
Gayden talked about the importance of passing in her offensive philosophy and the range of options with the proper pass. On defense, Gayden maintained that she always wants two blockers on the ball and the defense will move to the hit.
While the schedule for the 2019 season has been made, Gayden stated that in-state opponents are extremely important so that one will know the opponent; however, she also emphasized that seeing a new look from an out-of-state opponent helps broaden the horizon. After this first season, Gayden will have more control of the schedule.
Gayden spoke briefly about the summer program, "We will have open gym sessions during the month of June. In July we will sponsor a youth camp that the team members will work. Two weeks before the season begins, we will implement a boot camp conditioning session to get ready for the grind."
Gayden will be teaching special education this coming school year as part of her contractual duties.
Gayden ended, "I am very passionate about the game of volleyball. I love the sport and I want the team to love the sport the way I do. I want the team to love practice and not dread it."
Gayden has a three year-old daughter, Leena.