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Penn names Kaitlyn Hickey head coach of Penn Volleyball

Penn names Kaitlyn Hickey head coach of Penn Volleyball

Kaitlyn Hickey helped the Penn Volleyball Team claim State Championship trophies in 2010 and 2011 as a standout player for the Kingsmen.

Now, she hopes to guide Kingsmen Volleyball players to their own future championship moments as the head coach of Penn Volleyball.

Penn Athletic Director Jeff Hart announced that Hickey will be named the head coach of the Kingsmen Volleyball Program, pending approval by the Penn-Harris-Madison school board on May 22, 2023. Hickey replaces Lisa Pawlik, who was Hickey’s coach when Penn won the Class 4-A state crown in 2010. Sarah Hendricks, current Penn High  School assistant principal, was Hickey’s coach in the 2011 State Championship season.

“We’re thrilled that Kaitlyn Hickey will be our next Volleyball Head Coach,” Hart said. “She embraces the characteristics that I believe make the best high school coaches. She’s passionate about the benefits of education based athletics, she’s competitive, she’s positive, and she’s prepared to lead and mentor our student-athletes going forward. She has deep roots in the P-H-M community and we can’t wait to get started with Coach Hickey leading the program!”

Hickey, the Northern Indiana Conference MVP in 2011 and the 2011 IHSAA Mental Attitude Award winner, returns to Penn after a standout coaching career as a travel coach and recruiting coordinator for NIVA (Northern Indiana Volleyball Association). She was a two-time All-American at IUPUI, and holds the IUPUI career kills and solo blocks volleyball program records. Hickey was the Summit League Player of the Year in 2015 and will be inducted into the IUPUI Hall of Fame this year.

“I am super excited about the opportunity as Penn’s next Volleyball Coach,” Hickey said. “This is a great group of athletes and I am honored to be able to give back to the school that really kicked off the love of the game for me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the community and family support I received through Penn and on through college.”

Hickey brings the advantage of having grown up in the Penn-Harris-Madison culture of excellence.

“This was a big decision for me and I feel very welcomed by the school and community,” Hickey said of returning to the Penn Volleyball Program. “It feels like the right move. I take great pride in Penn from playing there and watching my siblings and cousins participate in athletics throughout the years. 

“Penn has always encouraged its athletes to be the best they can be and I hope to continue that. In high school, I was able to play softball, basketball, and volleyball, winning two state championships for volleyball and one runner-up state final for basketball.

“My coaches worked together to help me time-manage and be fully invested in each sport. I hope to bring that to the volleyball program – embrace those multi-sport athletes. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am very competitive and will continue to push these girls to be as well.”

Penn Volleyball is in the Hickey Family DNA. Three of her sisters played Volleyball for Penn: Emma (2018-2022), Ally (2016-2020) and Rachel (2014-2018). Her brother, Joe Hickey, played golf at Penn (2011-2015), and another brother, Josh (a Sophomore) plays lacrosse.

Hickey’s journey though Penn, travel volleyball and then collegiately at IUPUI gave her the opportunity to hone her skills as a student of the game.

“I love watching every form of volleyball and talking through the strategy or decision making of the games,” Hickey said. “Throughout high school and college, it was always my favorite thing to replay the game through conversation with my parents and siblings, discussing why a certain decision was made and letting each other know if there was a better choice to make. I think that really helped grow the IQ of the game and get better year after year. 

“Recently I have really liked listening to Adria Anderson, Lou Hickey, Paul Koncir, Nicole Cirillo, and Dave Shondell,” Hickey continued. “Sometimes I think I am saying the same thing, but a key word registers with different athletes, and it is cool to see that moment the athlete gets it.

“ … talking the game with my sisters, who all play(ed) in college, and how their coaches taught them has brought many perspectives of how to connect to athletes and continue learning the game.”

Hickey is looking forward to growing Kingsmen Volleyball by cultivating an environment of positivity and competitiveness, while helping the student-athletes prepare for the next stage of their lives.

“I love volleyball and want others to have as fun of an experience as I have had and continue to have,” Hickey said.

Hickey and Penn Volleyball will embrace competitive challenges to pursue championships.

“The more you play, the more you learn,” Hickey said. “I am a firm believer in wanting to play the best of the best. It is more rewarding to challenge an amazing team/player than to beat weak teams.

“Stepping out of that comfort zone and challenging yourself at the highest level has taught me many things for coaching. The mental side of challenging that player across the net or motivating a teammate on and off the court to better the team as a whole has to be strong when playing those tough teams. 

“The tougher competition is also adapting quicker, which forces me as a player or coach to adapt quicker trying to stay a step ahead,” Hickey said. “Even while coaching, I like to step on the court and play with the team to see first hand how they anticipate plays or learn why they make the decisions they do and think that has helped me a ton that I can still do that.”

Hickey is currently the Chief Financial Officer at Trim A Door in Mishawaka. She has a Masters of Science in Accounting from Indiana University’s prestigious Kelley School of Business, and has a Bachelor of Science (double major in Accounting and Finance) from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. She is also the Treasurer of the Samantha Hickey Foundation in Granger.

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