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Voyles steps down at North Harrison


July 17, 2019
Missy Voyles made the call to players last Monday of her decision to step down as the girls' basketball coach at North Harrison.

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Missy Voyles, coaching on the sidelines for North Harrison girls' basketball, announced her resignation last week. File Photo By Wade Bell
"I couldn't figure out how to emotionally put a team meeting together," Voyles said. "I told them my physical health with my back has gotten to be too much and I'm going to step down."

Voyles missed some games in the middle of last season due to health reasons, which she said took a lot out of her. At the conclusion of the high school calendar, Voyles continued to lead the program into spring workouts, camps and a busy summer schedule.

After a break from basketball, Voyles had a self-realization that she was ready for a personal break from the game. Her back eased with time off versus demonstrating pivots, cuts and passing to hoopsters.

She had a feeling one day she would quit coaching spontaneously, which is how it unfolded.

"I love the kids," she said. "That is what has kept me doing it a few years longer than I really wanted to. It's very hard to walk away from that team. I love them."

This was Voyles' second stint as the girls' basketball coach at her alma mater. Ironically, the first stint lasted the same as the second, eight years. In her 25 years of teaching (a position she will keep at North Harrison Middle School), Voyles said she also coached at various levels when not associated with the high school program. Her longest break was maybe a year.

"Evidently eight years is my limit," she quipped. "I managed to get there twice. At the end of my first stint of coaching, we had gone to full-summer access. It just becomes a lot."

In 16 total seasons as the girls' varsity coach, Voyles put together an impressive .703 winning percentage, going 270-114. Among the postseason success includes capturing five sectional titles, three regionals and two semi-states. The semi-state titles led to Class 3A state runner-up finishes in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.

"That may take me a while," Voyles said of looking back at the on-the-court accomplishments. "I've never been really good at focusing on the successes. I tend to dwell more on what I didn't do well. I told my husband (James) that I hope some day I look back on this as positive and worthwhile because right now I am looking at what I didn't accomplish. I look at last season and keep thinking we lost a few games we shouldn't have. I can't believe that's in my head."

Posters, photos and newspaper clippings took two days to take down in the Lady Cats' coach's office.

"I cleaned my office out, and when I walked in there, there were four walls of newspaper clippings and pictures," she said. "I started to take them down the first day, and the first one I noticed was one of me pregnant coaching (son) Konnor. Then, another of me holding (son) Cameron when he was 2, and now he's 18. It's been so much of my life. I had to walk away. I couldn't take it down. I had to do it the next day when I could pull myself together. It's been a big part of my life."

Her youngest son, Caleb, is a student at NHMS.

A full-stop with coaching may not happen for Voyles long term. She said she no longer physically and mentally felt up to running an entire high school program at this stage.

"I could see me picking up and coaching down the road, but not immediately," she said. "I could coach a season of fifth-grade basketball. I could pick up and coach eight-week seasons of something. Maybe volleyball. I always thought I would be a volleyball coach. If you would have asked me when I was 19, I was going to coach volleyball. Being a basketball coach was not in my plans."

During her second run as head coach, Voyles went 139-61. The past two seasons saw the Lady Cats compete in Class 4A come sectional time. Next year, they return to 3A but without Indiana All-star Lilly Hatton, who is off to Wofford College in South Carolina.

"The team I am leaving right now, they have great potential," she said. "I think they can be really good. There are kids coming up behind them, too. That's where it's really hard. I feel horrible I left this senior class, but I don't know if there will ever be a time when I don't feel bad. There's always that next senior class."

While the accomplishments with banners and wins are one thing, Voyles said she valued the impact beyond installing a press defense.

"I think that is what I will miss the most," she said. "I'll be honest, I've gotten up four straight mornings and cried a little bit. I wake up some mornings from a text that says, 'It's so much more than basketball.' Coaching aside, they've heard me say it so many times over the years, that it's bigger than basketball. We're teaching you to be strong individuals who handle adversity, can handle failure, can handle the hard parts of life, because it's not easy."

Voyles said since the announcement, it's been nice to hear from former players, but difficult at the same time.

"That's what I'll miss, the former players coming back to games," she said. "Having that social interaction with these young girls who you've had the opportunity to impact and influence their lives. That, I will miss so much more than the game."

For once, Voyles will wake up with a very limited plan on the next day, week or month, when basketball agendas aren't in the fold.

"No path at the moment other than drink coffee in the morning and walk around the park with my husband," she said.

Plus, there will be more options to plan dates to take a vacation, or, Christmas shop.

"It's totally life consuming," she said. "I'm kind of excited about the idea that I can vacation whenever I want."

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