Dunkel named new Crook County High School volleyball coach
When the OSAA Class 4A State Volleyball Championships ended in November, it marked the end of an era.
Shortly following the Cowgirls' fourth-place finish at the championships, long-time head coach Rosie Honl announced her retirement.
With more than 20 years as the head coach at Crook County High School, Honl won eight state championships, while her teams have earned numerous other trophies.
Honl has also been named coach of the year, both on the league and state level multiple times.
The retirement left a hole in one of the most successful sports programs in Oregon state history.
CCHS athletic director Rob Bonner has recently announced Honl's replacement.
Young and enthusiastic, Honl's replacement is Baylee Dunkel.
Dunkel, who currently lives in Redmond but works at Slater Chiropractic in Prineville, played both high school and college volleyball in Washington.
"I heard through the grapevine that Rosie was retiring," Dunkel said. "Everyone knows Rosie. Everyone knows the program. It's an amazing program, and I just want to learn from that and expand on that."
Dunkel brings limited coaching experience to the job, but an extensive playing history.
She started playing club volleyball in seventh grade and continued to play club ball through middle school and high school.
In high school, she was a four-year varsity player as a setter and outside hitter.
"I was a setter and outside hitter, mainly, but I played all the way around," she said.
Following high school, Dunkel played one year of college volleyball at Clark Community College.
Dunkel inherits a team that should be immediately successful.
With just one player graduating from last year's fourth-place squad, the team has loads of experience.
Throw in JV and freshman teams that were highly successful last year as well as a talented incoming freshman class, and the team is loaded with talent.
Still, Dunkel faces some challenges.
The Cowgirls are moving up to Class 5A and into a league that includes teams that the Cowgirls have not seen.
"I am going to have to definitely do my research about the league that we are moving into," Dunkel said. "Who's in the league? What kind of players they have? And then we will just make adjustments accordingly."
Dunkel added that she isn't expecting to make any major changes to the program.
She recently attended a Gold Medal Squared volleyball clinic. That is the same system that Honl has used for years.
In addition, Honl has still been running open gyms during the spring, and Dunkel is planning on learning what she can from Honl.
"I think that I am coming into this as a year of mutual exploration," Dunkel said. "I'm going to keep it the same. If it's not broke, don't fix it, essentially. Rosie is a wealth of knowledge, so I really want to pick her brain and get to know what she has done. I want to have her be in my ear and have her be a resource for me, so I hope she will be integral in the transition that we are making."
Dunkel added that her most immediate goal is to help make each individual player better. In addition, she expects the team to once again return to the state tournament.
"I'm excited to get started," she said. "I'm looking forward to getting to know the girls and hopefully having a super successful season. I know that I'm new, and I know that Rosie has been here forever. I want to just bring my freshness as a player to the program."