A veteran coach with 25 years of experience should help the transition for an Indian River High School girls’ volleyball team during the rebuilding of a team that won its first-ever Henlopen Athletic Conference championship a year ago.

With a significant portion of their team from that title-winning campaign having since graduated, the Indians will look to Richard Comly to take over the reins of the program after former coach Jim Barnes stepped down after last season.

Comly served as an assistant coach while leading the JV team last year. That, in and of itself, should cut down on the “getting to know you” phase of a new coach coming in.

“I have always enjoyed a new journey, and the possibility to affect young minds in a positive way,” Comly said. “I have been coaching volleyball for 25 years. I started coaching volleyball when I was a sophomore in high school in 1995. I started coaching as a manager of the girls’ team at Council Rock High” in Pennsylvania, he said. “I would help with the women’s team in the fall and play on the men’s team in the spring.”

The knowledge of the girls’ program made it an easy decision for Comly to put in for the opening once he knew it had become available. Despite the graduation of six key contributors from last year’s team, Comly has a strong nucleus back, with the likes of Raychel Ehlers, Skylar Kneller, Brandi Mitchell, Sia Diakos and Camryn Ehlers.

“I had a chance to work with the players at IR last year as the JV coach and have seen the growth of the program over the last several years,” said Comly, who also has spent time as a women’s coach at Gwynedd Mercy College in Pennsylvania.

The new coach said he strongly believes that sports — especially at the high school level — are a great platform for learning, practicing and applying life skills.

His coaching philosophies can easily be used in a player’s everyday life.

“Be yourself and true to it,” he started. “Learn by doing. Don’t worry about what you can’t control, and work hard at what you can. Instead of hearing the word, ‘No,’ rephrase it to ‘it means you need to find another way.’ Help others if you have the ability to do so, and make friendship a fine art.”

Comly serves a the CEO of a company that both plans events and runs sports programs in several different states. The mission of that company is to empower young women by giving them opportunities to play sports.

Jay Clark will stay on staff with Comly this year, as assistant coach to the varsity team. Comly’s wife, Molly, will also join the staff. The two have a 14-month old son, Sawyer.

“My parents live in Ocean Pines (Md.) and are big IR supporters,” noted Comley. “The loudest fan in the stands will be my mother, Toni.”

The team has already begun practicing for the season, which gets under way with a scrimmage against district-rival Sussex Central on Friday, Oct. 16. The regular season starts on the road against Polytech on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 4 p.m.

Staff Reporter

Jason has been in journalism for 20 years. He moved to Coastal Delaware in August 2017 with his wife, Jessica, and their daughters, Kylie, 17, and Grace, 12. He has a passion for high-school sports and especially values the relationships that builds.