Rising Stars: Karen Chisum

Chisum, in last Southland season,
earns acclaim, honors — and wins

A photo of Karen Chisum and two Texas State volleyball players.

Texas State volleyball coach Karen Chisum (center) is in her 32nd season as coach of the Bobcat team. Flanking her are players Caleigh McCorquodale (left) and Amber Calhoun.

By Mary Kincy

Karen Chisum counts it a privilege to be a Bobcat. “It’s not a right,” she explains. “Everyone doesn’t get to. You’re recruited out there to perform, to exceed expectations and to be successful.”

It’s advice she’s taken to heart during the course of more than three decades as coach of the Texas State volleyball team, earning a record that ranks her the sixth-winningest active head coach in NCAA Division I volleyball.

Chisum’s accomplishments were honored recently when she was named to the 2011 class of Distinguished Alumni Award recipients at Texas State (She earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the university in the 1970s.). Further acclaim came in mid-November, when the Southland Conference league office named Chisum its Coach of the Year following a 24-7 (15-1 in the Southland) record over the season that earned the 2011 team the program’s sixth Southland Conference regular season championship.

As she prepares to lead Texas State volleyball through its transition from the Southland to the Western Athletic Conference in 2012, Chisum also witnessed the recent addition of four new student-athletes to the list of players who have won all-conference awards during her tenure: senior Amber Calhoun was voted the Southland Player of the Year, and was joined on the All-Southland Conference First Team by teammates Amari Deardorff and Caleigh McCorquodale, while Melissa Toth was voted to the All-Southland Conference Second Team. To date, Chisum has coached 82 student-athletes to all-conference awards.

For Chisum, the exaltations pale in comparison to the simple knowledge of having impacted a student-athlete. “Every win, every championship, every ring I have, there’s special memories, and it would go back to the kids,” Chisum says. “That’s what it’s all about, the kids that have been in the program. They’ve been the ones that have been out on the court to win the ballgames and score the points. Not me.”

Helping her players develop both on and off the court is a mutually beneficial exercise for Chisum, who derives a sense of satisfaction from the endeavor. “Those are the things you can’t replace, when you know that you have positively influenced a young lady’s life,” she says.

Learn more about Chisum in the Rising Stars archive and in this video, which showcases the unique relationship Chisum shares with the student-athletes who are part of her program.

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