It was time for a change, even if it came suddenly.
Four months ago, Diana Story, the hugely successful Fauquier High volleyball coach, stepped down after 25 years at the helm of the program to become an FHS assistant school principal.
Story, whose record of 456-156 ranks fifth in VHSL history, had hoped to continue coaching if she took the administrative post, but that wasn’t an option.
“It was such a short window of opportunity for the opportunity,” said Story. “I said, ‘I’ll try.’ I cannot miss this opportunity. “
Story recalls a chaotic two-week period in late July and early August when she gave up the coaching job that was her lifeblood.
Fauquier volleyball season was set to begin with the team returning from their annual July trip to Liberty University summer camp after missing their 2020 trip due to the pandemic. Trials should begin on August 2nd for the 2021 campaign.
“We had a wonderful camp and I enjoyed the time there with the girls,” said Story in an often emotional interview last week. “I was looking forward to the start of a new season. I never knew this would happen.”
Fauquier finished a championship in the northwest district in the spring season. The Falcons were undefeated against the enemies of the Northwest, and everything was set for another successful campaign.
A series of behind-the-scenes events began to unfold and changed the structure of the program. It got the word that Fauquier’s assistant headmistress Danielle Tapscott left that post in mid-July to join Kettle Run, which surprised many, including Story.
Story was a member of the Circle for Budding Administrators.
The 1987 graduate in Fauquier had obtained her administrative diploma 15 years earlier. Her original long-term plan was to become a sports administrator at the high school or college level, but those desires would wear off.
She found out about the latest job posting on July 21 and had to quickly decide whether to pursue the job posting. Story interviewed for position July 29th.
“I loved every aspect of my job,” said Story, but she also knew that such opportunities can be rare. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do because I was entering the final phase of my career. I was ‘What do I want to think about?'”
Fauquier director Kraig Kelican offered her the position, but Story didn’t have an automatic answer. There were doubts, she admitted. She hoped she could become the assistant principal while coaching her beloved volleyball girls at the same time.
“Ultimately, I was told I couldn’t. That’s when it got real,” she said of not training. “I made Fauquier Volleyball what it is today, along with those who helped me
“I was the only constant,” said the longtime coach. “That was the hardest part when I went away and knew it wasn’t mine anymore.”
She knew the job was hers for a week before she could tell anyone in case an unexpected hook came up at the school board meeting.
“I couldn’t even tell my family,” Story said, adding that she had to close the door to her classroom while she secretly packed to move into her new office.
She also recalled that due to constant questions from staff about whether she was the new assistant headmistress, she had avoided walking down the hallway. If she was cornered she’d mumble something she didn’t know yet
“I literally had to do this for a week. I felt like shit for lying to people, ”she admitted.
The meeting of the school committee coincided with the first day of volleyball attempts. Story and assistants Jen Linthicum, Kim Crowe and Melanie Jacobs all arrived early as usual, but the annual process deviated from script.
Story told them that she had applied for the position and may no longer be the head coach.
Story said the quality of her staff was a major factor in her decision to forego coaching, which gave her confidence that the program could continue to thrive. Linthicum took over the position of head coach.
“I would never have done it if I hadn’t known [they] weren’t there to take it over, “stressed Story.” I could never have left if I hadn’t had the quality of my staff. I would never have done that to these girls. “
The school council meeting went off without a hitch, leaving Story the next day with what might be the toughest task of the entire two weeks.
Now she had to inform her college players of the Exodus.
“On Tuesday in training I had to tell them that I would no longer be their coach. They were in shock,” said Story. “I kept it together as best I could. When I turned to go away, I just lost it. “
Historical numbers and many memories
Story quits the volleyball job after breaking a 456-156 record to make her the most successful coach in Fauquier County’s history in any sport. The overall wins are also the fifth highest in the state of volleyball history, according to the Virginia High School League record book.
Her teams qualified as head coach for regional games in 21 of their 25 years and won eight district crowns during this time. The Falcons also garnered several state tournament spots. The Falcons’ first trip to a state tournament was in 2000 when the team reached the Group AAA Final Four.
“That was the first big highlight of my career,” said Story proudly.
When volleyball was a winter sport in Group AA, their Fauquier unit was the first Falcon team to ever reach a state championship game from 2002 to 2003, finishing second at Cave Spring.
Her teams won 20 or more games in six seasons, with 19 wins four times, 18 wins once and 17 wins twice. The 2016 and 2017 squads are joint record holders with 22 wins. The 22 wins are the second-most in any Falcon sport in any season, just behind the 23 won by the boys’ basketball team coached by Allen Creasy in 1986-87.
The awards and high numbers are a statistical tribute to continued success, Story said, but her most important memories come from human relationships.
“There are many people from all these years that I still see or hear from,” said Story in her office, the walls of which were covered with volleyball photos and other memorabilia. “There are many who have a place in my heart, be it individually or as a team.”
She attended all of the team’s home games that season, including those at Kettle Run and Liberty. “But the relationships are not the same,” she complained.
“I miss it. Don’t get me wrong, ”said Story. “But I know deep down in my heart that the change was good for me.”