Cothron tabbed as new Canes coach

jlembo@bradenton.May 2, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Tony Cothron considered it a good fit.

So did the folks at Manatee High.

Consequently, Cothron has been named the school's new volleyball coach. He replaces Rachel Batey, who resigned earlier this month after leading the Hurricanes to the Class 8A-District 8 title last season.

Cothron is a fixture in the local volleyball scene -- he is the co-assistant director of the Manatee Area Volleyball club and spent the last two seasons at Palmetto. His wife, Nancy, also coaches with MAV and was at Saint Stephen's for 16 years before taking over the program at Southeast in 2011.

"I live real close to Manatee, almost across the street. And I have a son that goes there and another son who went there," Cothron said. "It just fit better."

Cothron, who teaches at Sky Academy in Venice, takes over a team that has made the regional playoffs the last two seasons -- the Hurricanes competed in Class 7A in 2012 -- and is expected to return a roster that includes heavy-hitting sophomores Haley Coulter and Jacqui Armer.

"It's a strong program I'm walking into," Cothron said, adding he has coached against many of Manatee's players in club action. "I felt like there are some tools I could bring to the table to help."

Cothron is the first hire for Manatee athletic director Jason Montgomery, who took over in February after Joe Kinnan resigned.

"We are thrilled to welcome Tony to the Cane family," Montgomery said, "and believe that his experience and skills are a perfect fit to help our program grow into a consistent state contender."

Palmetto athletic director Kenny Ansbro said Cothron told him in advance about his decision to switch schools. There are no hard feelings.

"I would never hold anybody back from doing something they want to do. I certainly wouldn't want someone to do that to me," Ansbro said. "I wish him luck. Tony's a good guy. He really is … You've got to do what's best for yourself and your family. I wish him well, and I have no problems with Tony."

Ansbro has already heard from people expressing interest in the Palmetto vacancy.

"The volleyball circuit around here is very tight-knit," he said. "I'll be looking inside first and try to keep it inside our high school. But if not, we'll do the best we can."

Cothron said there is a difference between coaching club volleyball and prep volleyball -- where club volleyball is broken down into different age groups, a prep volleyball roster at a public schools includes everyone from freshmen to seniors. The disparity of talent is also wider at the prep level.

Despite the differences, Cothron believes his last two years at Palmetto better prepared him for that, and he is ready to apply that knowledge at Manatee.

"Last year and the year before working at Palmetto got me geared for what to expect and what to know in dealing with the high school girls," he said, "and how to deal with the bigger variety of talent, and what I need to work on."

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