For the second time in two years, the Clearwater volleyball team will open the season with a new coach.
Joe Dixon, who coached the Tornadoes to a 17-10 record and region final appearance in 2009, has resigned just weeks before the start of the regular season. Dixon said he is taking on new responsibilities with his off-campus job in the food and beverage industry, which will have him traveling frequently to Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Naples midway through Clearwater’s volleyball season.
“(The off-campus position) was offered to me, and I had a talk with the family,” Dixon said. “Instead of being a midseason drop out guy, I decided to go ahead and step aside now…Unfortunately it all just happened at this time. It wasn’t even supposed to be discussed until next summer, but the company I’m working for has decided to go ahead and make some changes.”
After 17 years as a high school and club volleyball coach, Dixon indicated his lone season on the Tornadoes sideline will probably be his last in coaching. Dixon was the head coach at Mitchell from 2000 to 2004 but took a four-year break from coaching prior to his arrival at Clearwater, mainly to watch his daughter Katelen, an outside hitter at the University of Tampa, compete.
“I would venture to say I’m out of the coaching business,” he said. “It was very emotional for me. It wasn’t an easy thing for me to do. I kind of just realized I needed to move away.”
Clearwater JV coach Kara Betourne will take over as the Tornadoes new head varsity coach.
Betourne, 27, is a 2001 graduate of Clearwater, where she was a setter on the Tornadoes 2000 state championship team. She was also a freshman varsity member of the Tornadoes first state-title-winning squad in 1997.
Betourne spent two seasons as the JV coach at Clearwater and a year as a JV assistant. She is also a five-year veteran of the club volleyball circuit with the Gulf Coast Juniors.
“I was absolutely thrilled to be named head coach,” Betourne said. “I’ve followed a lot of these girls during their past club season. I’m so excited. I think we have a top squad this year.”
Clearwater returns eight seniors this season, including all-county setter Kahley Patrick. The Tornadoes open the season September 1 at Countryside.