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Volleyball standout converts to coach

By NANCY MORGAN, Times Sports Correspondent
Published July 29, 2007


Rachelle Konczal tried out for the middle school volleyball team as a joke. Her best friend said she had no friends who played and asked Konczal to join her.

Following a successful volleyball career at Northeast High and Florida Southern, Konczal begins her first head coaching position next month at Lake Gibson High in Lakeland.

"Throughout her playing days, Rachelle was always willing to work hard for as long as it took to achieve success," Florida Southern volleyball coach Jill Stephens said. "Rachelle will have an awesome experience coaching, even though it is a lot of hard work, especially at the high school level. She has a knack for communicating and worked our summer camps from her freshman year - she'll be a good role model for her players."

Konczal attended Florida Southern from 2002-05 and in her final season was named to the AVCA all-region squad, second-team all-Sunshine State Conference team and NCAA Regional all-tournament team. Konczal finished ranked No. 13 in career kills and ninth in career blocks for the Moccasins.

Among Konczal's favorite memories is when the Moccasins beat Tampa her senior year, the first time in 11 years the school had earned a win over the Spartans. Another includes a seven-block match the 6-foot right-side hitter had against Florida Gulf Coast.

"The right side-hitter is mainly used for blocking and is usually more for a lefty than a righty like me," said Konczal, 23. "For some reason, I picked up on it and just took to it. I actually became obsessive about it and worked really hard at the position."

After graduation, Konczal was invited to play on a U.S. team on a 10-day tour playing teams from Italy. Later, she received an invitation to join a team in Holland, but chose to return to the United States to begin a coaching career.

Last year, Konczal served as assistant coach for Plant City High's varsity team and was the JV coach. In addition, Konczal began coaching club volleyball.

"My biggest challenge being the head coach is not to get too stressed," Konczal said. "My philosophy is pretty much how I was taught and the enthusiasm for the game that I learned, especially in college. I'll do the best I can and if they play their best, I'll be happy.

"Lake Gibson has won districts four of the last five years, so I feel the weight of that winning tradition. I'll help them all I can and hope they'll love the game as much as I do."

TENNIS: Rising Michigan sophomore George Navas Tampa Prep of Belleair won the second leg of the ITA Midwest Summer Circuit. It was the second circuit final for Navas with Wolverines teammate Mike Sroczynski and his first win. At Michigan last year, Navas collected a 17-14 singles record and was 23-9 in doubles.

BASEBALL: In May, Joe Jianetti (St. Petersburg High/Daytona Beach CC) set an Atlantic League record, hitting safely in 28 consecutive games. The infielder is averaging .227 in 53 games and is sixth on the Newark Bears squad in runs scored with 23.

- Randolph-Macon's assistant coach, Evan Brannon (St. Petersburg/St. Petersburg JC/FAU), is coaching the New Market Rebels in the summer's Valley Baseball League.

- George Tsamis (Countryside/Stetson) is in his fifth season managing the Saint Paul Saints in Independent Baseball and his ninth overall. In four seasons, Tsamis has managed the Saints to four playoff appearances and a championship while collecting a 222-154 overall record. The Saints extended Tsamis' contract through the 2009 season.

SOCCER: Midfielder Anthony Wallace (Lakewood/USF) is playing his first season of professional soccer with the FC Dallas developmental squad.

- As a junior, Emily Stack (Palm Harbor University/Chattanooga) was a starting midfielder/defender for Tampa and scored one goal for the Spartans.

- Danielle Celmar (Seminole) was a reserve midfielder/defender for Tampa last season, playing in 18 of 22 games.

- In her final season at Tampa, midfielder Stephanie Huertas (Countryside) played in 11 games.

- Midfielder Annie Stalzer (Palm Harbor University) played in 11 games her freshman season at FSU and scored one goal.

- Becky Thompson (Clearwater Central Catholic) is a goalkeeper for the Seminoles.

TRACK AND FIELD: Rose Richmond (Lakewood/Indiana) was third in the long jump in the USA Outdoors Track and Field Championships and fifth at Doha, Qatar.

- Clint Hamm (Indian Rocks Christian) earned eight top-10 finishes for Belmont in the 2007 season. In the outdoor season, Hamm was named third team A-Sun all-conference in the 4x400 relay team and second in the 200-meter and third in the 400 in the indoors.

FOOTBALL: Coast Guard Academy senior punter Jesse Harms (Lakewood/Naval Academy Prep) was named to the Gilburg Watch list for consideration of All-America selection at the Division III level. Last season, Harms led the New England Football Conference in punting average at 41.6 yards and was fourth nationally.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Please include phone number.

[Last modified July 28, 2007, 22:15:37]

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