Rita Girgen resigned her position as head volleyball coach for the Hastings Raiders this past week. Girgen had been with the Hastings volleyball program for the past 15 years, 11 of which were spent at the varsity level. Girgen said her decision to resign was not for any single reason, but rather that it was just time for her to pursue other goals.
"I think the timing is right for me and my personal life," Girgen said. "It's a lot of time, a big commitment, and 15 years has come and gone really fast. This is incredibly difficult for me, but I know I need to do it. There are things I want to go do, that are really hard to do when you're making a commitment to a program."
Girgen said that the highlights from the last 15 years have been the people.
"There are so many memories that you can't even put them into words," Girgen explained. "The thing that stands out to me the most, outside of loving volleyball, is really the relationship and the connection you make with not only your student athletes, but with their families. It's a home away from home. There are endless connections you make with people and they come in all forms."
She also said that her time coaching at Hastings has changed her as a person forever.
"It really helps you learn as an individual," Girgen said. "The things that I can take away from my coaching career at Hastings — I mean I was a student-athlete here myself, but then to be on the other side of it, you gain such a great perspective. It's overwhelming once you start thinking about how it changes you as a person. These kids and these families, more so my student-athletes specifically, have really changed and impacted my life in a way that I don't know where I would get that in another form. I'm so lucky and fortunate to have had this experience."
Despite her leaving, Girgen said she still has really high hopes and expectations for the Raider program.
"I still have really high hopes, and standards and expectations for the kids coming through," Girgen said. "Whoever comes in, in my place, will have a really good foundation going, from top to bottom; all of our coaches are strong and really on-point with the direction we're trying to go in. It will take someone who's really passionate and will put in the time."
Hastings finished the 2016 season with a 10-14 record overall, took third in the Metro East Conference and went 1-1 in section playoffs.