Kyle Chapman is looking forward to coaching Central Maine Community College’s new women’s volleyball team this fall. Submitted photo

Perhaps it was Kyle Chapman’s yearning to return to coaching volleyball that somehow pried open a window of opportunity at Central Maine Community College.

The 30-year-old Brigham Young University graduate had his eye on Lewiston High School’s up-and-coming girls volleyball team before it came to fruition. But CMCC was also looking for a coach for the Mustangs’ new women’s volleyball team — and that opening proved irresistible for Chapman.

Chapman, an Arizona native and Lewiston Middle School chemistry teacher, left the sweltering Copper State at his wife’s urging and moved his growing family to Maine’s cooler climate.

“I was in Arizona after I graduated from college,” he said. “We were there for three years, and my wife (Erica Davis) was like, ‘This is way too hot.’ She (a North Yarmouth native) brought us back here.” 

“We were here roughly 10 months before I like, you know what, I got the itch to start coaching,” Chapman added. “I was working with the rec department in Lewiston developing a rec league and that type of stuff. The CM job opened up and I said, ‘Shoot! Why not?’ And I got it.”

CMCC athletic director and men’s basketball coach Dave Gonyea said the Mustangs are fortunate that Chapman came on board.

“I think he is a quality guy,” Gonyea said. “He has a lot of experience playing volleyball. He is a professional educator, so he’s used to connecting with students. I think he will be a great teacher of the game. So I am really optimistic where we are going. I think the guy will do a really good job.”

A NEW EXPERIENCE

Chapman said his biggest challenge coaching the Mustangs is what he calls the “community college stigma.” He said some students tune out when you mention community college during recruiting.

“That is the biggest challenge I face as far as recruiting athletes,” he said. “I was working on a couple athletes this coming fall, and it was between me and another university, and they went with the other university simply because it was a university. We were actually the better school (in my opinion).”

Despite the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, Chapman said all systems are go for CMCC’s first volleyball team to compete.

“I am chomping at the bit to get back in the gym and start coaching,” he said. “It is definitely going to be a learning curve for everybody. It is going to be a learning curve for me and I am excited to take on that challenge.”

The enthusiastic Chapman is eager to put his stamp on the program as well as go nationwide to recruit athletes.

“I want our program to be THE program in the state of Maine,” he said. “I want to establish a culture that is so good, not just winning, but I want to establish a team culture that is so good and so infectious that people actively want to join it. That is my goal.”

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN

Before the CMCC job opened, Chapman and Lewiston High School athletic director Jason Fuller were working together to establish the Blue Devils’ girls volleyball team, which begins its first varsity season this fall. But the process to bring the team online moved slowly.

“In that interim phase, that’s when I applied to CM and got the position at CM,” Chapman said. “Since then, I have continued to work with the rec and continue to work with the Lewiston girls and kind of train and coach them. I have been training those Lewiston girls for the past two years.

“I am hoping to be able to run club (volleyball) out of the (Lewiston) Armory. So after the high school season, they would go play club for me and continue to play and build so that Lewiston and Edward Little can have good programs within the next year or two. Because I am not the head coach at Lewiston, I can actually run the club.”

Chapman added that if he became Lewiston’s head coach for the volleyball team, he would be forbidden by the Maine Principals’ Association to coach a club team composed of the Lewiston girls team.

Fuller explained the MPA rule, saying, “The rules are pretty strict on this matter. You can’t coach ‘your athletes’ after the sports season dates. So Kyle can coach club volleyball, but he can’t coach any players on that team that would be from the high school program he is at.

“So, in essence, he could coach club volleyball, but he would only be able to develop kids from other programs he would be coaching against. Kyle could do club volleyball and coach only middle school kids and not high school kids. That would be another option.”

Not having Chapman as its coach might actually help the Lewiston High School volleyball program.

“It will actually work to Jason Fuller’s advantage that I am not the head coach of (the high school) team,” Chapman said. “Now I can run club and train them after the high school season. When they get back to high school, they are going to be a whole lot better.” 

To say Chapman’s zeal for the sport is infectious and endearing is not an understatement.

“I am just excited to grow the sport in this area, not just at CM, but I want to grow the sport in the Lewiston-Auburn area,” he said. “By the time I am done — and I have no idea when that is, it could be five years, it could be 20 years, it could be 30 years, I don’t know — but I want leave a mark so that this whole Lewiston-Auburn area becomes a hub for volleyball.” 

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