Head coach Kimura ends 40-year career

Kaelia Neal, Editor-in-chief

It took just $300 to induce first-year Linfield College student Shane Kimura to take over as head volleyball coach in 1974.

At first, he didn’t get much respect from the upperclassmen players. But he developed a love for coaching and it became a big part of his life from there on.

When he was only in his 20s, Linfield volleyball was the runner-up at the national championship meet.

After more than 40 years of coaching volleyball at Linfield, Kimura turned in his official retirement letter Nov. 2. He’s decided it’s time for him to move on.

“It’s been a good run, but it’s been a long time,” he said. “It’s time for that next chapter, that next adventure. I’m looking forward to that too.”
Kimura said it was tough telling the players about his retirement plans. There was simply no good time or way to address it, he said.

He received many congratulations in response. That extended to former players as well as colleagues and current players.

In his honor, the final volleyball game of the 2017 season was dubbed, “Shane Night.”

This year’s squad features no seniors, so every player faces having to work with a new coach next season.

“When Coach Shane announced his retirement, I was shocked,” said junior Eryka Keoho. “I couldn’t hold back my tears. “I’m sad that he won’t be coaching my last year. But I know he will be there to support us every game he can be at.”

Although he’s retiring, Kimura is looking forward to staying connected with the Linfield community. “I think for me, this place is in my blood,” he said.

“I went to school here, I coached here for a long time and we live in the community,” he said, referencing his wife, Donna. “I’m going to miss it for sure.

“I’ll still be around and supporting the kids on the team currently, because a lot of them, we recruited. I hope to be back their next three senior nights.”

His advice for the new coach? “Enjoy the relationships you have with the players, because I think those are the ones that you’re going to take with you. Some of those memories are going to be long-lasting ones.”

Athletic Director Garry Killgore said the college is developing a search plan. Ideally, it will be able to name a new coach by Jan. 1.

Killgore said his children grew up with Kimura’s, so saying good bye won’t be easy.

“The thing that I admire the most about Shane is that he’s a professional,” Killgore said. “He’s an excellent teammate to have. He really understands and appreciates being part of a bigger thing.”

Kimura leaves Linfield with a 664-520 record and five Northwest Conference titles. The titles came in 1980, 1983, 1989, 2003 and 2006.

Once retired, Kimura plans to travel with his wife.  He also wants to dedicate time to his grandchildren.

“It’s been an awesome experience being here,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s hit me yet that I’m not going to be here. But when it does, I think I’ve got some good things to look back on.”