HIBBING — When Nina Kangas stepped down as coach of the Hibbing Community College volleyball team last season, Cardinal athletic director Mike Flaten knew where to turn.
Flaten called former Hibbing athlete Kasey Palmer and asked her if she wanted the job.
After consulting with some area coaches, Palmer agreed to take the position, but she got more than she bargained for.
Not only will Palmer be at the helm of the volleyball squad, but when Kate Brau resigned as women’s basketball coach, she accepted that job as well.
Her path toward being a head coach started innocently enough.
“I received a call or a text from Mike last winter, and it was something I was interested in,” Palmer said. “We sat down and met, and that’s when I decided I was going to do it.”
Palmer had played volleyball for the Cardinals, using up her eligibility in 2011. She went back the next year to play basketball.
After that, she went to Fond du Lac to get her two-year degree in criminal justice, then she lived in Fargo, N.D., for a year.
Palmer came back to the area and was a volleyball assistant coach for five years at Floodwood. She also volunteered to be a boys basketball coach for three years.
Palmer learned a lot during that time at Floodwood.
“You learn different aspects of the game from a coaching perspective,” Palmer said. “You learn strategies. You’re not doing the physical aspects, but there’s different pros and cons working with boys and girls.
“That gave me a different perspective on things.
Even so, Palmer wasn’t afraid to ask questions before accepting the volleyball job.
“I wasn’t completely sure I was ready,” she said. “I had a lot of support. I talked to Mike Turnbull, Flaten, Julie Lange and a few different coaches in the area. I talked to Derek Hart (Floodwood’s head coach) and asked their opinions on what they thought.
“After talking to them, I was going to do it. It might be rough the first couple of years, but you learn.”
Palmer won over the top brass at the college by putting academics first, then athletics.
“It comes down to academics is the main goal, and athletics comes after that,” Palmer said. “We had the same common goals.”
Palmer was hired right after Christmas, then on Jan. 2, she got down to work. Fortunately for Palmer, Kangas had done some recruiting, so the cupboard wasn’t bare.
“We have nine or 10 girls coming in,” Palmer said. “It was helpful that Nina had done some recruiting. I spoke with those girls, and Kate has been helpful, too. We were cross recruiting. We used different methods to recruit.”
As for the basketball job, that opportunity came out of the blue.
“It was one of those things that came up, and it was something I may have been interested in, too,” Palmer said. “They were looking for somebody to fill the spot. Kate had a lot of girls coming in, so the recruiting was done, and she had sent out all of the summer things.”
Palmer will have three sophomores on the team, and she’s been leaning heavily on Alexis Desjarlait and Klaryssa Whelan.
“They’re taking charge,” Palmer said. “They have been my main points of contact.”
As of now, Palmer is getting her practice plans done, and she’s counting down the days until volleyball practice starts in August.
“The schedule is already out,” she said. “It’ll be a learning experience, but it’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing. Coming back and coaching in Hibbing, that makes it sweeter.”