After 19 seasons and 22 championships, Morristown East softball coach Robin Vannoy decided it was time to hand in her final lineup card. Wednesday afternoon, Vannoy informed Morristown East principal Joe Ely that she would be stepping down as head softball coach.
"It has been an honor to coach at Morristown East,” Vannoy said. “Our student-athletes have always represented Morristown East well in the classroom and at the next level. The softball program has established a winning tradition and I know that whomever takes over the team will continue to build the program and love it as much as I do.”
Vannoy wraps up her career with a 482-193 varsity coaching record, five Region 1-AAA championships, five District 2-AAA tournament championships, eight District 2-AAA regular season titles to go with a 99-14 junior varsity record and four IMAC JV conference championships. Along the way she nabbed the TSSAA A.F. Bridges Female Coach of the Year award, three IMAC Coach of the Year nods, an All Northeast Tennessee Coach of the Year selection and multiple All Lakeway Coach of the Year honors. She leaves the Lady Hurricanes softball program as the winningest coach in its history.
With her 150 head volleyball coaching victories added in, Vannoy's 632 total coaching wins make her the winningest coach in Morristown East history.
"Coach Vannoy has set the bar high for all coaches in our area from the number of wins she has had on the field to the way she has ran her program,” Morristown East principal Joe Ely said. “This will be a big loss for not only our school but the softball community as a whole.”
Stepping away was not an easy call for the veteran coach.
"This was a recent decision,” Vannoy said. “I just had a new little grandbaby (Rylee Kate) born. I have two grandchildren (along with three year-old Karlee Paige) now. My son (Hobie Vannoy) just got engaged Sunday and he lives in New Mexico. I want to see all of them. A lot of things happened over the last two weeks. It’s time for me to devote some more time to my family.”
But Vannoy will leave plenty of great memories and softball family members behind.
"I’ll miss the relationships that I had with the girls,” Vannoy said. “I’ve coached so many and all the athletes have been wonderful, on and off the field. The winning teams we had were built from the teams that struggled.”
Along the way Vannoy has helped her players move in their careers, with many choosing to play on in college, from the Junior College to NCAA Division I level. It’s what made the end of this past season, truncated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, so hard to accept.
"It made it (stepping down) a harder choice,” Vannoy said. “If we’d have gotten to play, I would have had better closure. But, with the pandemic you have to deal with the obstacles that are in front of you. With the COVID-19 virus, you have to put a lot of things into perspective. With my family and my health, that’s the main concern. I’m at retirement age with the school system. This coming year is my 30th, so a lot of things weighed into the decision.”
Vannoy, who will continue teaching Business/Technology for one more year, did not leave the cupboard bare for her successor. The 2020 team loses just four seniors and should be ready to reload with a talented group moving up from an experienced JV squad.
"The majority of the team is back,” Vannoy said. “They’ll have a good group of incoming freshmen and sophomores that will be moving up to varsity. Whoever takes over will have a good core team next year. I wanted to leave the next person experienced players and we have that at every position.”