Into her 22nd season as a volleyball head coach, Diane Wilson joined an exclusive club - 500 career wins. She noticed it, thought nothing of it and moved along.
Wilson, a longtime coach at Grapevine, is her third year with the Haslet Eaton Eagles. Like most coaches, she focused more on her kids past and present on reaching the career mark.
“It’s a tribute to a lot of great girls that I had the opportunity to coach,” she said. “And a bright future ahead - maybe I’ll have a goal of reaching 600 or some of those other milestones, but each year in itself is what’s important at the time.”
Starting her humble beginnings as a standout player at L.D. Bell High School under Vickie Griffin, Wilson continued her playing days at Stephen F. Austin. She would get the chance to coach for one year at Arlington Bowie in 1994 before landing the job with the Mustangs, where she would spend nearly two decades, taking her team to the playoffs 14 times in 18 seasons.
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While bringing that much success to Eaton was a gift, Wilson had to pretty much start from scratch.
“I thought I was prepared and I know how to coach volleyball, and I thought I knew how to build a program, but it certainly tested me in ways I never thought possible,” Wilson said.
I’ve grown as a coach and it’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here because after 20 years, what’s new - this was new and it’s been incredible.
Eaton coach Diane Wilson
The Eagles started a junior varsity team as the school opened its doors in 2015. Wilson didn’t have a district or even a schedule and was setting the season up game by game. That team finished 22-10.
“My expectations were that we would have to prove ourselves because we were considered the ‘little sister’ school to Byron Nelson and Northwest,” senior hitter Lindsey Ferkel said. “I also knew we would be constantly under a microscope since we were a new school with just freshmen and sophomores trying to contend with the other established high schools. Honestly, I think we held our own that first year and finally got Eaton on the map.”
Last year with the likes of Aledo, Justin Northwest and Saginaw Boswell, Eaton missed the playoffs, but finished a game out.
“They understood by the end of last season how difficult it was to make the playoffs and how competitive the region is,” Wilson said. “They started to understand how hard they had to work every day in practice. Being the best in your gym doesn’t matter anymore. It’s being the best in the area that matters.”
123 Kills for senior Lindsey Ferkel, which leads the team.
Just like all the other programs at the school, there were no seniors and everyone returned. That inlcuded 6-5A Newcomer of the Year, senior setter Fabiola Rivera and senior defensive specialist Kaylee Payne, a second-team all-district selection.
The Eagles also have freshman hitters Caleigh Enax and Kyndal Payne, second and third on the team in kills. Ferkel, who has been with Wilson all three years, is the team leader in that department.
“Coach Wilson doesn't expect, but she demands the best from us because she knows it's in each and every one of us on the team. The first year, I think she was sizing us up to see what we were capable of and since then she knows our strengths and weaknesses, and how to push us to make us better,” Ferkel said. “She does know how to have fun and encourages us to enjoy ourselves on and off the court. Coach Wilson has ran other successful programs, but I think she knew how important it was to make this one the best yet.”
So far this season, Eaton has scheduled tough competition with tournaments at Mansfield ISD, Northwest ISD and Arlington ISD. The Eagles finish non-district with L.D. Bell, Birdville and Denton before 6-5A starts against Azle on Sept. 8.