Dr. Matthew Darling is a professor in the English department at Gannon. With literature as his area of expertise, he teaches College Comp and upper-level lit courses.

However, being that English majors only make up a small percentage of the student body, he is more commonly recognized as the women’s volleyball coach, as he has been for 12 years.

Darling credits the President of the American Volleyball Coaches Association and former Head Volleyball Coach at the University of Kentucky, Kathy DeBoer with inspiring him to pursue coaching.

“Kathy’s professionalism is what I admire most about her,” Darling said. “[H]er toughness would be second on that list.”

According to Darling, Kathy is the reason he began coaching. “[S]he made me (and I mean that literally) take on the head coaching role of Tates Creek High School in Lexington, KY in 1993.”

During that year, the school was starting a girls’ volleyball team and DeBoer decided that Darling would become their coach.

“I told her that appreciated that she thought of me, but that I was going to be busy and couldn’t do it,” Darling said. “She said, ‘Matt, at what point did you think I was asking you do coach?  I never asked.  I told you that you were going to coach.  Now get out of my office.  You’ll hear more about the details later.’  That’s how I got into coaching!”

This moment not only paved a road for Darling’s future years of coaching, but also remains his favorite memory with DeBoer. Being that they are both still active in the volleyball world, Darling sees DeBoer a couple of times a year, though he has never told her how much that conversation has meant to him.

Darling plans to share this article with DeBoer because he believes that it’s important to recognize the women in our lives and their influences and accomplishments.

“We should share our appreciation with all of the important people in our lives (women or men),” he said. “[B]ut, in a world that still doesn’t fully respect the roles that women play, it probably works to encourage women to keep doing great things—even if these great things are not always acknowledged.”