Nirelle Hampton hired as Wave's volleyball coach
Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 5:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 5:55 p.m.
In his search to find the right person to take over a young and talented P.K. Yonge volleyball team, athletic director John Clifford turned to a familiar face whose family was instrumental in the Blue Wave winning a pair of state titles.
Clifford announced Tuesday the hiring of former P.K. Yonge standout setter Nirelle Hampton, 25, as the school's new volleyball coach, replacing Cobey Shoji Hutzler, who left for personal reasons after leading the Blue Wave to a 25-5 record and a regional final in one season.
As a player, Hampton was a six-year starter at P.K. Yonge and was named first-team all-state in five of the six years. She played with older sister and UF standout Marcie Hampton when the Blue Wave won state titles in 2000 and 2002. Her oldest sister, Linda Hampton, coached the team from 1999-2001, starting a string of six straight Final Four appearances.
“I'm really excited to be back in the gym where I grew up in,” said Hampton, who was also a standout collegiate player at TCU. “It is from a different perspective. Marcie and I both played growing up here, and now I'm back.”
The Blue Wave had only one senior starter on last year's squad and return three first-team all-area players in Kayla Simmons, Jac'cara Walker and Jordyn Saulsberry, The Sun's Player of the Year.
“I have heard so much about this team,” Hampton said. “When I left Gainesville I was so familiar with Gainesville volleyball, and now that I'm back I don't know what is going on as well. But I've certainly heard a lot of good things about this program.”
Hampton, who graduated from college last summer, coached a middle school team in Texas for three years and also worked plenty of camps. This will be her first high school head coaching position.
Clifford said Hampton's knowledge of the tradition at P.K. Yonge and of the game makes her a natural choice to lead the program.
“Nirelle certainly understands the great tradition here at P.K. Yonge because she has been a part of it,” he said. “She was part of two of the state championship teams. I'm excited about her coming back. She has had a great volleyball experience since leaving here. She has always been one of my favorites since teaching her in middle school.”
Taking over such a talented team, Hampton said she doesn't feel any extra pressure in bringing the school another state title.
“I put pressure on myself as a coach regardless,” she said. “It is important to have that little bit of pressure no matter where you are at.
“I'm just excited about getting these girls in the gym, working with them and seeing where we can take them.”