New Faces, Old Places Energize Coach Kylie Heyne

Nov 10, 2020 8:00 AM

By Chris Hildreth '20

Everyone has heard the saying, “The grass is greener on the other side," but first-year FSU volleyball coach Kylie Heyne '11 is a living testament that it may be greenest where you plant your seeds. Nearly a decade after capping off a volleyball career at FSU earning All-American honors in 2011, Heyne has returned to the place where her love for coaching was born.

It was a passion that didn’t manifest itself until halfway through her first tenure at FSU.

“I originally wanted to be a sport psychologist," she said. “It wasn't until my junior year that Coach (Peter) Letourneau shared with me that I would make a great coach and offered me a graduate assistantship at Cal U of PA (California University of Pennsylvania) after graduating from Frostburg.”

Heyne left her assistantship at California University of Pennsylvania with a master’s in exercise science and a concentration in sports psychology, along with all the experience needed to land her first head coaching job. In July 2015, she was hired at Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia where her success continued. She won 69 games overall and made the conference tournament in four of her five years as head coach.

Now she's back in Western Maryland where it all started. For many first-year head coaches, the thought of coaching your first season at your alma mater is frightening enough even without a pandemic, but Heyne doesn’t plan to succumb to the pressure.

When asked if there were any nerves coming into the season, Heyne said, “I don't know if there are nerves, but I do have high expectations for myself.”

Heyne's laser focus allowed her to be one of only three FSU volleyball players to be named All-American in her first season, so she doesn't make excuses when faced with challenges. In such a unique year, she's had to be creative in her coaching strategies relying heavily on technology to establish relationships with her new players.

“I've had to resort to FaceTime calls to build relationships. When the semester started, I only saw the team for just a few hours a week.”

This dedication has carried over to her team as well. They've taken note of Heyne’s high expectations and have reciprocated the energy.

“The team knows I have high standards that they constantly work to achieve,” she said. “There is nothing more I can ask for out of a season than putting in the work, having a good attitude, and having fun!"

The pandemic forced FSU and many other schools to delay fall sports competitions until the spring semester.