Kari Totten had a feeling she was going to become the varsity volleyball coach at Winters Mill.
August was just beginning and the Falcons were struggling to find a replacement for longtime coach Michele Crouse. So Totten, who served as the junior varsity coach under Crouse, wasn’t too surprised when she found out she would be taking over.
“I knew we hadn’t found anybody yet, so I was thinking about it,” Totten said. “It was in the back of my mind that I was going to take over, so it wasn’t a huge shocker.”
Volleyball has been a part of Totten’s life for quite a while and it runs in her family.
She began playing when she was in sixth grade. And her father, Leo, a Carroll County Sports Hall of Famer, won a Class 1A state volleyball championship in 1996 while coaching Francis Scott Key.
“I still play today,” Totten said. “I love it. It’s one of my passions.”
Totten is inheriting a program that has had recent success in the county. Winters Mill won the county championship in 2012 and won 11 games in two of the past five seasons under Crouse.
In 2013, the Falcons were tied for third in the county standings. Leading the way for Winters Mill was then-sophomore Meghan Crouse, a Times first team all-countian, who tied for first in the county in kills with 3.9 per game.
But Crouse will have a big change this year. For just the second time in her volleyball career, she will not be coached her mom.
“I think it will be good,” Crouse said. “Get to know other coaches and get to play with other people.”
The Falcons will be young this year, as they lose Elizabeth Hawkesworth and Parker Choplin, both second-team all-countians a season ago. But Crouse said she thinks the team has the talent to play well this year.
“I think we have a lot of potential,” Crouse said. “People don’t really think we do, but we’ve got a lot of good, young players coming in.”
Totten is one of six volleyball coaches beginning either their first or second year with their team.
Former JV coach Kelsey Franklin is taking over at South Carroll. Century’s Bryan Trumbo, Liberty’s Michael Rainbow, Manchester Valley’s Teri Leatherwood, and Westminster’s Ed Benish are all entering their second season at their schools.
With Totten already being a part of the program before this year, Crouse said that will help the transition, especially because there was uncertainty as to who would be the coach at this time last month.
“She’s also coached me in club, so I knew her well,” Crouse said. “It was a little scary not knowing if we were going to have a coach or not.”
Entering her first season as a varsity coach, Totten said she is optimistic, like Crouse, about how the team will fare this season.
“The girls are awesome, they’re really easy to work with,” Totten said. “We have a lot of talent so I’m really excited.”