Good Sports - Haley Silman and a winning volleyball culture at Bloomfield

Bloomfield coach Haley Silman (right) watches Karsynn Phillips pass to a teammate Mon., Sept. 17, 2018 at Bloomfield High School
Kyle Smith/Dexter Statesman

Good Sports is a weekly feature appearing in the Southeast Missourian and online at Semoball.com. It profiles the life of a person connected to sports and allows readers the opportunity to know the people who are impacting athletics throughout Southeast Missouri in a deeper way. Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Today: Haley Silman, 38, girls varsity volleyball coach, Bloomfield High School. Silman has coached the Wildcats to three consecutive district championships and has a 62-42-3 mark at the Stoddard County seat school. Previously, Silman coached Scott City to a 113-26-7 record (.798) in four years. Overall, Silman has a lifetime mark of 195-68-10 (.733). She and her husband, Allan, are avid deer hunters and make their residence in Benton.

Letís start with your passion for deer hunting.

My husband and I are bow hunters. Iíve killed three does and two bucks. The largest rack on a buck Iíve taken was just last year Ė a seven pointer. We call him Daggers.

Deer season and volleyball season overlap.

Yes, and I did some referee work for a couple of years before Bloomfield asked me to coach again in 2017. Sherilyn Johnson had gone off to grad school in Arkansas. I (initially) didnít want a job (that would) take me out of the woods. Volleyball season begins shortly after school starts each year and bowhunting season starts Sept. 15. (But) I have my volleyball girls in class and they encouraged me. Theyíre a fun group. They all work so hard. Jewel Chism, for example, has back trouble but when sheís in the gym, youíd never know it.

A little more about hunting, please. Most people hunt deer with a rifle. You donít.

My husband turned me onto the bow; I shoot a compound (bow) with a 36-pound pull. Target shooting is relaxing for me.

Youíve been around volleyball most of your life.

Iím from Bernie and have played at the net since the 3rd grade. (At 5-foot-7), I was an outside hitter, a setter and on defense. I also was a basketball cheerleader for the Mules. I never had the dream to coach back then.

You stayed local for college.

I got my associate degree at Three Rivers and my bachelor's in business from Southeast in 2004. Then it was straight onto Scott City.

You had a tremendous record with the Rams, winning 80 percent of your games. What caused you to leave?

I made the decision to leave for academic reasons. I was teaching physical education during the day and coaching at night at Scott City. I wanted to use my (business) major in the classroom and so I looked around for an opportunity.

And you found it.

First, I went to Essex, Mo. and taught in the Richland Schools for two years. But then Bloomfield came open. Iíd heard good things about this district and besides, I already knew the principal and superintendent.

You seem pretty passionate about teaching your subject.

I have a student who once told me she didnít want to grow up. I didnít either but none of us has a choice. Growing up means becoming overwhelmed with ďadulting.Ē My classes are about adulting for the most part. I teach personal finance Ė about taxes, insurance, and checking accounts. Iím also responsible for computer applications, multimedia and Iím the yearbook advisor.

You wear a lot of hats in Bloomfield.

In a small school (195 students in grades 9-12), we all do.

MSHSAA (Missouri State High School Activities Association) says Bloomfield is Class 1. Didnít it use to be Class 2?

Bloomfield is right on the enrollment line, apparently, My first two years here (2017, 2018) we were in the higher classification. Last year, we fell back to Class 1. I donít know yet which class weíll be in for the 2020 season.

It would seem to be an advantage to be in the smaller school class.

Yes and no. In Class 2, weíre up against the likes of Arcadia Valley. Always tough. In Class 1, where we were in 2019, we drew Advance. Advance was 32-2 last year.

Advance is a rival?

Yes, the Hornets are but so is my alma mater Ė the Bernie Mules.

You coach volleyball at a school with a remarkable level of success. Bloomfield has been district champion eight of the last 10 years Ė in both Class 1 and 2. Whatís in the water in Bloomfield, coach?

I donít know (laughs). Weíve had some athletic girls here. My first year here we had the Roper twins, Kaley and Nicole. We had an all-stater, Bailey Below, who was a setter her senior year. A great all-around player. She has since graduated. Jewel Chism, Cayla Mayberry, terrific young women to coach.

Who should a volleyball enthusiast keep an eye on going forward?

Our libero, Karsynn Phillips. Sheís a 5-foot sophomore whoís all over the court. Sheíll dive and dig and she flies.

You were district champions in 2019 but had a sub-.500 regular-season record, easily your worst season as a coach.

You have to keep in mind that last season our gymnasium was all torn up. Extensive renovations were supposed to be done by the start of school but rain held things up until October. Long story short, we played only three home matches in 2019. We played nearly all of our ďhomeĒ matches at other schools. The girls got worn out by all the travel and I did too. Did that impact our record? Yes and no.

What is Haley Silmanís coaching philosophy?

Iíd love to have a great hitter but defense is most important. Iíd rather have good ďDĒ than a kill shot. The first things we work on are serving, receiving and playing defense.

Describe your on-court demeanor.

I expect a lot from my girls. I may yell but follow it straight on with a positive. Iíd tell a player to put her feet down, yes, but then would (encourage her) and say sheíll get it next time. I think Iím strict but I like to have fun. I give my players a certain look and they all pretty much know what it means.

Youíve always taught both genders but have coached girls. How are boys and girls different?

Girls seem to care more but they also have more drama, more gossip. I tell my players that you donít have to like a fellow player outside of the gym but inside of it, youíre best friends. Youíre a team in here.

Would you say a word about your family?

Allan is in the receiving department for Orgill. We met over wings at Schindlerís in New Hamburg. We have four cats and two dogs.

How long do you envision yourself coaching?

I donít know. Until itís not fun anymore.

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