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Published Jul. 31, 2007

Rachelle Konczal tried out for the middle school volleyball team as a joke. Her best friend said she had no friends who played and asked Konczal to join her.

Following a successful volleyball career at Northeast High and Florida Southern, Konczal begins her first head coaching position next month at Lake Gibson High in Lakeland.

"Throughout her playing days, Rachelle was always willing to work hard for as long as it took to achieve success," Florida Southern volleyball coach Jill Stephens said. "Rachelle will have an awesome experience coaching, even though it is a lot of hard work, especially at the high school level. She has a knack for communicating and worked our summer camps from her freshman year - she'll be a good role model for her players."

Konczal attended Florida Southern from 2002-05 and in her final season was named to the AVCA all-region squad, second-team all-Sunshine State Conference team and NCAA Regional all-tournament team. Konczal finished ranked No. 13 in career kills and ninth in career blocks for the Moccasins.

Among Konczal's favorite memories is when the Moccasins beat Tampa her senior year, the first time in 11 years the school had earned a win over the Spartans. Another includes a seven-block match the 6-foot right-side hitter had against Florida Gulf Coast.

After graduation, Konczal, 23, was invited to play on a U.S. team on a 10-day tour playing teams from Italy. Later, she received an invitation to join a team in Holland, but chose to return to the United States to begin a coaching career. Last year, Konczal served as assistant coach for Plant City High's varsity team and was the JV coach. In addition, Konczal began coaching club volleyball.

"My biggest challenge being the head coach is not to get too stressed," Konczal said. "My philosophy is pretty much how I was taught and the enthusiasm for the game that I learned, especially in college. I'll do the best I can and if they play their best, I'll be happy.

"Lake Gibson has won districts four of the last five years, so I feel the weight of that winning tradition. I'll help them all I can and hope they'll love the game as much as I do."

TENNIS: Rising Michigan sophomore George Navas (Tampa Prep) of Belleair won the second leg of the ITA Midwest Summer Circuit. It was the second circuit final for Navas with Wolverines teammate Mike Sroczynski and his first win. At Michigan last year, Navas collected a 17-14 singles record and was 23-9 in doubles.

BASEBALL: In May, Joe Jianetti (St. Petersburg High/Daytona Beach CC) set an Atlantic League record, hitting safely in 28 consecutive games. The infielder is averaging .227 in 53 games and is sixth on the Newark Bears squad in runs scored with 23.

- Randolph-Macon's assistant coach, Evan Brannon (St. Petersburg/St. Petersburg JC/FAU), is coaching the New Market Rebels in the summer's Valley Baseball League.

SOCCER: Midfielder Anthony Wallace (Lakewood/USF) is playing his first season of professional soccer with the FC Dallas developmental squad.

TRACK AND FIELD: Rose Richmond (Lakewood/Indiana) was third in the long jump in the USA Outdoors Track and Field Championships and fifth at Doha, Qatar.

FOOTBALL: Coast Guard Academy senior punter Jesse Harms (Lakewood/Naval Academy Prep) was named to the Gilburg Watch list for consideration of All-America selection at the Division III level. Last season, Harms led the New England Football Conference in punting average at 41.6 yards and was fourth nationally.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to; or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756.