Vinson steps down as Hernando volleyball coach
Photo: Jayme Vinson is shown in the gym at Hernando High School, where she has been with the Lady Tigers volleyball team during most of her 18-year coaching career. (Bob Bakken/desotocountynews.com)
You will find Jayme Vinson at Hernando High School volleyball games again this fall, but for the first time in several years the long-time Lady Tiger coach won’t be directing the offense or calling the timeouts. You’ll find her in the bleachers instead, cheering the players on as someone else directs the plays.
After an 18-year coaching career that has included 13 years assisting or head coaching at Hernando, Vinson recently announced that she would not be returning to the volleyball court as coach. That doesn’t mean you won’t be seeing her in the gym when the Lady Tigers take to the court, however.
“I’ll be their biggest fan,” Vinson told DeSoto County News. “This is a change for me and a change for them, and I’ll have a hard time adjusting.”
Vinson said the main reason she has decided to step down is to concentrate on her family. Daughter Rylee Eyster, a standout athlete when she was at Hernando High, is now a freshman softball outfielder at McNeese State University in Louisiana.
“I want to watch my daughter play ball,” Vinson said. “All moms get to move their daughters into college, for instance, but I didn’t get to do that because of volleyball. She had her first college softball game but I couldn’t be there for that because of volleyball. It’s that season of life for me where it’s time for me to focus on my girl and my family.”
The incoming talent for the Hernando volleyball roster next year didn’t make the decision any easier. Vinson said the players coming up could challenge for championships.
“It was hard for me to give it up because there’s so much talent coming through right now,” Vinson said. “My competitive side thinks I could win a championship with some of these girls. When I told my girls, there were a lot of tears and it was hard for me to tell them. And naturally, people just don’t like change,”
Vinson has been around softball and volleyball for her playing and coaching career and volleyball was set with the foundation of coach Valerie Cagle. Jayme played volleyball for Cagle at Southaven High and won a state championship there in 1996. Vinson then went to Three Rivers Junior College in Missouri, where she played volleyball and softball. Two years at Delta State on a softball scholarship came next, followed by her first coaching job, in softball, at Corinth.
After stepping away for a couple of years, a successful volleyball coaching stint at Center Hill came and then a reunion with Cagle at Hernando, where Vinson first assisted and then took over the volleyball program on Cagle’s retirement. Vinson also coached softball until moving strictly into leading the volleyball team the past few years.
While her teams have been successful, they were never able to attain the “Gold Ball” state championship trophy. Vinson quips she may hold the record for the most state championship coaching appearances without a title, but then quickly adds that the players and relationships she has enjoyed in the volleyball community are most important.
“The older I get the more I realize that it’s not about the wins or the championships but I’ve forged so many remarkable and meaningful relationships with other coaches, assistants, and my players,” Vinson said. “I’ve been to so many weddings of my players. Would I like to have state championships? Of course. But you can’t beat the relationships. They are most important.”
Unless you’re close to the game, you may not fully realize the impact volleyball has with DeSoto County schools and in Mississippi.
District teams are regularly competing for state championships, shown again this past season with another 5A state title for Lake Cormorant. Vinson has been part of the DeSoto County coaching sorority that changes little, but just keeps winning.
Vinson credits the club programs and the players who play volleyball beyond the high school seasons who keep the sport in DeSoto County at its elite level.
“With the club leagues, they start them in fifth grade,” Vinson said. “With every touch you get better and with every rep you get better. So it’s starting in fifth grade instead of starting in seventh grade when you start in middle school, and they’re getting better.”
She adds there’s a real passion about the sport in DeSoto County.
“There’s good kids in DeSoto County and there are some great coaches,” Vinson pointed out. “Do I hate losing to my fellow coaches? With a passion. Do I respect that they’ve done a great job with their programs and they have a very competitive program? Absolutely. It’s fun to work with people like that and even to coach against them.”
For now, Vinson said she will continue teaching health, she calls it “Life,” at Hernando High School, but there will be more trips to watch her daughter play softball at McNeese State, and there will be more Lady Tiger volleyball games in the fall.
But, instead of picking up a clipboard, Jayme Vinson may be grabbing some popcorn and a Coke and cheering the team on as someone else sets the offense from the sideline.