Bell head coach Vickie Griffin talks to her team in 2012. She has announced her retirement after a 39-year coaching career, all at Bell. Bob Booth Star-Telegram archives
Bell head coach Vickie Griffin talks to her team in 2012. She has announced her retirement after a 39-year coaching career, all at Bell. Bob Booth Star-Telegram archives

Northeast Tarrant

L.D. Bell volleyball coach retires after 39 years

By Shawn Smajstrla

ssmajstrla@star-telegram.com

March 21, 2016 10:50 AM

The L.D. Bell volleyball program has 41 years of history to its credit, and 39 of those have been under the direction of coach Vickie Griffin. But next year the Raiders will have their first new coach since 1977, as Griffin recently announced her intention to retire this summer.

After doing her student teaching at Bedford Junior High in 1976, Griffin said, she fit the major criterion to fill the open volleyball coaching vacancy at Bell — she got along with the incoming basketball coach. Griffin joked that the administration primarily wanted to ensure that there wasn’t friction about shared gym space with the overlapping seasons.

In her first season at the helm, Griffin guided the Raiders to a district title. But in the playoffs, Bell ran up against Big Spring and standout Rose Majors, who later won a silver medal with the U.S. Olympic team. That was eye-opening for Griffin.

“I was a young coach then. You know, you think you’ve got it all figured out, but you don’t have a clue,” she said. “I realized that I needed to get with it and figure out what the heck was going on. I didn’t have quite the background I thought I did.”

Bell was Griffin’s first teaching and coaching job and will be her only. Thirty-eight years after that first season, Griffin realized that she needed to take more time for herself. The recent loss of a friend to cancer drove the point home.

“To me, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” she said. “You think you’ve got a million years ahead of you. That made me really realize you don’t have that much time.”

Griffin’s dual position as volleyball coach and athletic coordinator means that she doesn’t get the same summer break as most other teachers and coaches. Much of the hiring is done in June and then volleyball starts annually in July.

“That’s how I know I’m older,” she said. “Because I’m aware of how much time it takes.”

Griffin will still be plenty involved with the H-E-B school district, considering that she was recently named executive director of the HEB Sports Hall of Fame, of which she is a 2009 inductee. She also intends to stay active in the Bell Volleyball Alumni, a group she helped form in 2005 after the funeral of a former player.

“I always tell the kids it’s not just about volleyball,” Griffin said. “It’s about who you become along the way. So naturally I’m still concerned about my players once they leave me.”

The alumni group also has an annual Vickie Griffin Educational Scholarship award to reward a deserving player, another idea that was born when so many former players showed up to honor Kari Kelsoe.

“That’s what I love about it — the relationships,” Griffin said.

“Coach Griff” formed many relationships over 39 years at L.D. Bell, and the Trinity graduate has spent virtually her entire life in the H-E-B school district.

“The time just went by so fast,” she said. “Obviously I loved it.”

Vickie Griffin’s career

▪ Record: 805-558

▪ Playoffs: 23 times

▪ 16 district championships

▪ Six bi-district championships

▪ Two area championships

▪ Two regional semifinalist finish

▪ One regional finalist finish

▪ 16-time district coach of the year

▪ Four-time area coach of the year Inducted into HEB Sports Hall of Fame 2009

▪ Teacher of the year 1992

▪ Co-authored a book titled, A Tour Guide to Success

▪ Spent 39-year career at L.D. Bell High School

▪ 18 years as athletic coordinator

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