When the 2014 Greenbrier High School volleyball season begins, Debbie Born’s role will be that of cheerleader.
After leading the program from its inception in 1996, racking up 534 career wins and 10 region/area championships along the way, Born felt the time was right to step away from what she had built.
“I don’t want to sound selfish, but I feel like I need a little more me time,” said Born, adding that she had been thinking about it for a while. “I thought this would be a good year to do it as the girls are going to be solid. Whoever comes in here to coach them, it’ll be an easy transition for them. So I thought this was the year to do it.”
Growing up in Pasadena, Md., Born came to Augusta College and played basketball, softball and volleyball and never looked back. After graduation she was a student teacher at Augusta Christian, taught physical education at Harlem Middle School then started teaching at Greenbrier when it opened.
“I don’t think I ever had a break from high school,” said Born. “I was always playing something. I grew up around some kind of ball field. Volleyball, not so much. Volleyball I just started playing in college, believe that. I was nowhere near a student of the game until I started coaching the game.”
It took some time for the wins and championships to come.
“We never won a game that first year,” said Born, who recruited anyone who wasn’t a softball player initially. “Then we won one, then we won 10, 11 and started to turn it around.”
Her counterparts appreciate what she has been able to accomplish with her program.
“She’s just been a tremendous leader in volleyball in this area, really set high standards right away with the Greenbrier program,” said Lakeside volleyball head coach and friend Moe McCormack.
“She has been someone we have all wanted to beat royally (laughing), but we also just appreciate what she’s done to help volleyball grow.”
Among Born’s top listed moments is winning a school-high 45 games in 2007, having to win four matches in a row to come back and win the 2009 area championship and coming back from down 2-0 to Northside, Columbus in the 2013 state tournament to win 3-2 and advance to the quarterfinals.
While those moments are in her memory, it is the players she will miss the most.
“Just getting them to realize how good they can be,” Born said.
“That’s the best part about it. I’m going to miss the girls when it finally hits them how good they can be. That’s the worst part.”
While the girls had an effect on her, it was a two-way street.
Sarah Sather was the libero on the 2012 team that went 38-2, which Born called her best season ever, and thinks the world of her old coach.
“She’s definitely the best coach I ever had,” said Sather.
“She inspired me as a player on the court and as a person off the court. She was the reason I played in college and there’s no way I could thank her enough for being the role model she is.”
Garrett Black, Greenbrier’s softball coach and athletic director, has worked side-by-side with Born from the beginning and is glad that Born will be staying at the school to teach physical education.
“I know I can trust her and she’s always there for me,” Black said.
“I’m going to miss her out there on the volleyball court. The good thing about it is she’s still going to be in the building. She’ll still be around.”
But don’t look for Born around the campus once school is out this year, though.
“One of my goals is to get to every NFL stadium in the United States,” Born said.
“I’m on two-Atlanta and Carolina. I love football. More camping, more boating. Taking time to enjoy life a little bit more in the fall. This will be the first summer in 24 years that I won’t have to come up here. It’s a 12-month contract. Even though it isn’t, it is a 12-month contract if you want to be good. This is the first summer I’ll have, seriously, in 24 years.”
Born wanted to be a positive influence and set a tradition and then keep it going. It was a joint effort between her and the players she coached.
“I think I’ve set the tone and the girls, the girls are workers,” Born said.
“I don’t always instill that in them, I’ve been very fortunate to have very good kids.”
School principal Chris Segraves thinks she’s accomplished what she set out to do.
“She’s going to be one of those that’s tough to follow because she has set the bar so high for so long and has been able to achieve it,” Segraves said.
“Whoever comes in next already has the challenge set there for them, coming into a program where the cupboard is not bare. There’s going to be a wonderful nucleus for whoever gets that position.”