Spikers set to serve with French at helm

KINGSTON — Many aspects of North Kitsap High School’s upcoming volleyball season will serve as fresh starts — new equipment, a new gym in which to play and even a new coach. Well, he’s kind of new, anyway.

KINGSTON — Many aspects of North Kitsap High School’s upcoming volleyball season will serve as fresh starts — new equipment, a new gym in which to play and even a new coach.

Well, he’s kind of new, anyway.

Tim French, who served as the Kingston Junior High School volleyball coach for five years, is poised to take over as North Kitsap Vikings’ coach this year. Former coach Clay Blackwood left the program last spring. Considering that much of the team will be former Cavaliers who played for French in Kingston, the move to Poulsbo won’t feel altogether like a new beginning.

“I’ve had (French) through junior high school and now I have him in high school,” said NKHS junior Joanna Kaiserman. “I think he’s a good coach — and I already know him pretty well.”

To get a jump on the upcoming season, French held a camp this week at Kingston Junior High School for those interested in honing their skills before the team’s Aug. 18 tryouts. Campers, many of whom played for the former Cavs’ skipper at KJH, offered early praise for the new Purple and Gold coach.

“He’s a great coach and he knows what he’s talking about,” said incoming NKHS sophomore Melissa Lucas.

“I’ve never been the best player, but he’s never left me out (during camp),” said incoming 10th grader Casey Clark. “He’s always tried to help me.”

French began his volleyball coaching career on a whim at Lind High School. As coach of the basketball team there, he was asked to come on as an assistant for the volleyball team.

“I’ve been hooked on volleyball ever since,” French said.

After serving as Lind’s head coach, French took a teaching position and the head coaching position in the sport at Quilcene High School, where he was three-time coach of the year for the North Olympic League. He began teaching in North Kitsap in 1997 and became the Kingston Junior High School head coach in 1999. While there, he has compiled a record of 38-10, including a perfect season of 12-0 in 2002.

French said he brings to the North Kitsap program an ability to find strengths in each of the players and an atmosphere in which team members will work well together on the court.

“I try to utilize each player’s skills and find out where they’ll be the most successful,” he said. “Attention to detail goes a long way.”

In a game geared around momentum, French said cutting down errors on the court can be the most important aspect in winning.

“I believe at any level of this game, the team that makes the fewest mistakes has the best chance to win,” he said.

The new surroundings are also exciting, he commented.

“I know there’s the talent and enthusiasm for the game here,” French said. “But I’m coming in with an open mind. It’s a clean slate — a fresh start for everybody.”

But just because it’s his first year at NKHS, don’t think that French will settle for a slow start on the season. One only needs to look to the rafters in the NK gym to see why he’s stoked for the season.

“There’s nothing on the banners in the gym, and my goal is to get something in here,” French said. “The program has a solid base built by (Blackwood). We’re going to build on that.”