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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

‘A positive, energetic winner’: Coach Chisum’s legacy lives on post-retirement

Former+Head+Volleyball+Coach+Karen+Chisum+is+honored+during+halftime+of+a+men%26%238217%3Bs+basketball+matchup+between+Texas+State+and+Louisiana%2C+Saturday%2C+Feb.+1%2C+2020%2C+at+Strahan+Arena.+Chisum+was+presented+with+a+rocking+chair+as+a+retirement+present+by+other+Texas+State+Athletics+head+coaches.

Former Head Volleyball Coach Karen Chisum is honored during halftime of a men’s basketball matchup between Texas State and Louisiana, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, at Strahan Arena. Chisum was presented with a rocking chair as a retirement present by other Texas State Athletics head coaches.

For 40 years, Karen Chisum guided Texas State volleyball to a 919-559-3 all-time record, including nine conference and 11 tournament championships. Chisum was hired as the head coach of the Texas State volleyball team back in 1980 and has trail-blazed a path that athletes and aspiring coaches everywhere can admire.
She’s one of the most legendary Bobcats in school history and was recognized as the first woman inducted into the “T” Association’s Hall of Honor in 1994. In 2011, Chisum was acknowledged as a Texas State Distinguished Alumni, an award given to the likes of former president Lyndon B. Johnson and other legendary leaders. Chisum’s love for the university was a huge part of her success and that’s not lost on anyone.
“She helps you fall in love with Texas State,” said current Volleyball Head Coach Sean Huiet. “She’s spent so many years here; she went to school here … it makes you take pride in the university, and I think that’s something I’ve tried to carry on in my career.”
Growing up, Chisum loved sports and described herself as a “little tomboy.” While at Texas State, she studied physical education and played on the softball and tennis teams. After graduating, she became a volleyball coach at Goodnight Middle School in San Marcos where her co-colleague helped her get into the game. 
Before all the accolades and awards, the championships and trophies, the game of competition inspired Chisum to take up the coaching mantle. She’s come a long way from those humble beginnings, and it’s been quite a journey. Spending 40 years doing anything can seem daunting, it can wear someone down or things can just get stale. But Chisum is different. She brought a contagious spark every single day, every single second.
“She has so much energy,” Huiet said. “We always joked that she’s the Energizer Bunny because you’d think someone near the end of their career would slow down a little, but she never really did.”
It was the relationships with the athletes throughout Chisum’s career that kept her going for so long. She said she believes coaches play an important role in developing young athletes not only as competitors but as people too.
“The kids, it’s always about the kids,” Chisum said. “Being able to see the growth in individuals and not just in volleyball but in life, I loved being a mentor … they come in as scared, goofy kids and by the time they leave, they’re ready to conquer the world.”
Chisum said that having a passion for what you do makes it so much easier to keep going. Her love for teaching her players about the game and about life is something they certainly appreciated and will never forget.
“She gave me the opportunity to come out and live my dream,” said senior setter Emily DeWalt. “Once I got here just knowing she loved coming to practice every day and seeing us, that’s one thing I’ll carry with me forever, knowing whatever you’re doing just make sure that you show up and love it every day.”
Chisum loves coaching so much, she continues to play an active role in Texas State’s program. Despite being retired, Chisum has an open invite to any of the team’s practices courtesy of Huiet, her former assistant. 
“I called her one day and we were talking about practice, and I was like, ‘you know you can come to practice anytime you want,’ and she was there the next day,” Huiet said. “Now she’ll stop in pretty frequently. We had her come in and talk to the team for Women’s History Month, talking about some of the hurdles she’s had to overcome. We want to make sure her legacy lives on.”
Her legacy will surely be hard to forget. She’s recognized as a trailblazer and that all goes back to 1980 when she was hired as head coach. Chisum said that back then there weren’t too many women in coaching and not much attention had been paid to women’s sports in general. However, she has enjoyed the progress and growth she’s seen in women’s athletics throughout her 40 years as a coach and hopes to continue to see more of that.
“Back then there was [no environment for women in coaching],” Chisum said. “We were not participating in NCAA sports. Our first matches, we played our games in the upstairs court in the Jowers Center. One year we had to play in San Marcos High School. But to see where we started in 1980 to where I finished in 2019, wow. It’s not only the growth of volleyball, but the university has grown too, and with that comes the growth of women’s sports.”
Chisum’s legacy as a leader and a strong female figure is something that Huiet wants to carry on. He recognizes the fact that he is a man coaching a woman’s sport and does everything he can to show the women on his team that they can achieve greatness no matter what.
“We need more women in our sports, and even being a male head coach, I want to empower my team. I want them to be able to do anything they want,” Huiet said. “I think balancing being a mom and still having your dream job is something that I’m trying to show the team you can do. Chisum was very good at that. I was a single dad and she made sure I could live out my dream of being a father and a coach. I hope I can give that example to my team too.”
It’s clear that Chisum was an inspiration to many. Being around for 40 years made her meet a lot of people and leave a lot of impressions. But ultimately, she wants to be membered as someone who loved what she did.
“I want to be remembered as a positive, energetic winner,” Chisum said. “One who did things the right way and with compassion.”

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