By Steve Williams
For years, Ed Irvin had a dynasty in high school girls volleyball.
It’s no wonder he was a unanimous selection for induction into the Greater Knoxville Sports Halls of Fame’s Class of 2013.
As a head coach in volleyball for 28 years, Irvin compiled a won-loss record of 723-327 and directed South-Doyle to the TSSAA Class A-AA state championship in 1991 – the only Knox County team that’s ever captured a state title in the sport.
Irvin’s Lady Cherokees (36-9) defeated Harpeth Hall 15-12, 15-11 in the finals in Chattanooga. Harpeth Hall was 41-9.
Irvin was head volleyball coach at Catholic for two years, at Doyle and South-Doyle for 18 years and at Seymour for eight years. He was named Knoxville Interscholastic League Coach of the Year five times and received District Coach of the Year honors a total of eight times – six years at Doyle and South-Doyle and two years at Seymour.
A lot of his coaching career was a family affair as he coached with his wife Christie and they had three daughters – Megan, Marty and Mandy – who were all-state players at South-Doyle.
Christie actually started the volleyball program at Doyle in 1977, and Ed began at Doyle in 1986.
“They were a very successful team when I got there,” said Irvin. “My first practice was on a Monday, August 4, and our third daughter (Mandy) was born the day before on Sunday, August 3. Christie took off coaching for four years or so when our girls were so young.
“Christie was an excellent teacher as a coach. It was like we had two head coaches. I would always give her the young projects to work with. I certainly couldn’t have been as successful without her help.”
Oldest daughter Megan, a 6-foot middle blocker, was KIL Player of the Year in 1997. Marty, a defensive specialist and spiker, was a two-time all-stater in 1999 and 2000. Mandy, a setter and spiker, also was a two-time all-state honoree in 2002 and 2003.
“All of our success was done with kids we trained,” said Irvin. “We never had an impact player move into our school at South-Doyle or Seymour.”
In the state title season, Irvin recalled being asked who to nominate off his team to be on the state all-tournament team.
“I couldn’t do that,” he said. “We didn’t have one who stood out above the rest. Everybody had a role.”
Another key to the success Irvin had South-Doyle High was the fact he was P.E. Teacher at South-Doyle Middle School from 1986 to 1996 and got to coach and prepare the sixth, seventh and eighth graders for the Knox County Middle School volleyball tournament, which was held in the spring.
“And then when we got them at the high school, they weren’t beginners,” said Irvin.
“I would get the best athletes and teach them the game of volleyball.”
Irvin had a test he used to gauge volleyball athletes. It consisted of the shuttle run to determine quickness, the vertical jump to measure leg strength and power, and a timed mile to evaluate endurance and condition.
Irvin said if an athlete had gained confidence from being successful in pressure situations in other sports that was an “added bonus.”
Irvin said former Seymour High two-time all-stater Morgan Peterson, now a setter at Butler, was “the best all-around player I ever coached.”
Irvin played club volleyball at UT in 1973 and was a player on the 1974 Knoxville YMCA team, which won the Region 5 tourney.
UT and the Knoxville YMCA team were co-hosts of the United States Volleyball Association national tourney in the spring of 1974., which was played at Stokley Athletics Center. California-Santa Barbara swept the collegiate and open division titles.
“We were the only team to beat them a game in a match,” said Irvin.