By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (November 1, 2017) — The only head coach the Stephenville volleyball program has ever known is calling it a career. Fran Metzger says she will retire at the end the school year next May after 40 years of teaching including 38 of coaching.
“I know it’s my time. I’ve been at this a long time, and I love kids and the sport as much as the day I started, but there are other things I want to do, too,” said Metzger. “What I’ll miss the most is probably also what I’ll remember best, and that’s seeing kids develop, seeing the moment that light bulb comes on in their head.”
She’s helped turn on the lights of countless young women through the years,and guided them through about 1,400 or more volleyball matches along the way.
Metzger served as head coach at Tarleton State University for one year immediately after playing there, then became known as a successful program starter as the inaugural head coach at De Leon, Granbury and finally Stephenville.
The ladder of those is where she became known as something else – a state champion.
“That was fun and exciting, something you always dream about as a coach,” she said. “You get used to going to the state tournament and seeing it but you have to make it there with your team truly experience what it’s really like.”
She spent 14 seasons hoping to get back on the big stage at state.
“I really wish we could have done that one more rime, but its not easy,” she said. “It’s very difficult to get to state, let alone win once you get down there.”
Twelve years later, Metzger reached 600 high school head coaching wins while coaching Stephenville in a tournament in Granbury.
The Bees also made their last regional tournament appearance under Metzger in 2015. Since moving out of what is now Conference 5A, the Honeybees have reached regional tournaments in 2012 and 2015, regional quarterfinals in 2013 and 2014 and the area round last season.
Monday’s loss marked the first time since changing conferences that Stephenville did not win a playoff game. They have been to the playoffs 17 consecutive seasons since missing in 2000 when they were 38-8 but were left out because at that time only two teams advanced from each district.
Stephenvile athletic director Mike Copeland, an inducted member of the Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor, explained how thankful SISD has been to have Metzger.
“We are so grateful to Coach Metzger for the way she built our volleyball program from the ground up and took it all the way to a state championship. Those can never be taken for granted because they are very difficult to win and are always a huge accomplishment,” said Copeland. “She’s provided many years of leadership for that program, but more than that, she has made a positive impact on the lives of all the young women who were blessed to have her as a coach.”
Copeland said he does not anticipate any formal discussion concerning the process of bringing on the second-ever Hoenybee volleyball head coach until after Thanksgiving.
Metzger said she has known all season this was her swan song.
“A friend of mine told me the year before he actually retired he thought about it and questioned it a lot, but that the next year, he knew all year that he was going to retire,” she recalls. “And that’s where I was last year and where I’m at now.
“I still loved the game yesterday as much as I did 38 years ago. Well, maybe not the outcome (laugher), but I love the game, the sport, just as much,” she said. “And I love my kids even more than that. I’ll always look back and see them as freshmen and as seniors and be proud to have played a part in that development.”
Metzger will coach one final season of tennis this spring, then its off to other callings in life.
“I want to do some traveling and some things I have never been able to do. I have a bucket list,” she said. “Of course, I’ll spend as much time as I can with my own children and grandchildren.”
She has two daughters, both Stephenville grads, and two grandchildren.
“We have had a great run here, and that’s not just because of me,” Metzger said. “It takes a lot of people from the junior high on up to run a successful program and I feel like I’ve always had a great coaching staff and they made it possible for me to keep up with everything and do this as long as I have.”
One of her final seniors, libero Hailey Martin, says Metzger will always be remembered at Stephenville as a great coach and a better person.
“Playing for Coach Metzger is like being a part of history. She has had such great years here at Stephenville and she never fails to care about us no matter the day she has had. She has made me a better person, leader and athlete,” said Martin. “She will always be remembered here at Strphenville as a great coach and an even better person.”