Feb 052009
Authors: Sean Star

Editor’s Note: This story previously referred to Myles Hilbert as the son of Tom Hilbert. Myles is in fact Tom Hilbert’s daughter. Apologies for the mistake, which has been corrected.

Tom Hilbert claims it wasn’t a “newsworthy” story.

And because so, none of his players were available for comment.

Nine times out of 10 I would agree. A volleyball coach merely discussing the possibility of filling another school’s coaching vacancy hardly merits the space on this page — or on any other for that matter.

But this wasn’t just any coach, and this wasn’t just any school.

No, this was Tom Hilbert, the man responsible for the only consistently winning varsity team at CSU (at least of the sports that anyone watches).

It was also them. Those trust-fund, pot-smoking, dirty hippies.

They may have our number in football, and in basketball. But not volleyball.

Nope. Volleyball is the one sport we know we’re better at. Every year we know that our volleyball team will not only beat them, but contend for the conference championship and finish with an invitation to the NCAA tournament.

All largely because of him.

They were certainly not about to take that away from us. No, sir.

So when they came calling, inquiring about their open head volleyball coaching position, panic was an appropriate response.

Maybe we panicked because the situation was so foreign. Instead of kicking the coach out the door, this time the coach was the one making the decision.

Possible, but not likely.

Maybe we panicked because we had nothing better to do. It’s the middle of another forgettable basketball season, for both the men and women, and we got a little stirred up over nothing.

Again, possible, but not likely. National signing day was just a few days ago, so there were definitely other things to keep us busy.

No, we panicked because Hilbert ditching us for CU after 12-straight trips to the NCAA tournament would be like your parents getting divorced only to have your mom remarry the dad of the biggest loser you know.

Just the thought alone triggered the gag reflex.

But thankfully, he chose to stay.

He chose to stay, in part, because “volleyball matters at Colorado State,” Hilbert said.

True, there’s few places in the country, including Boulder, that Hilbert could go where he would receive the same recognition he does here.

But more importantly, he chose to stay for the same reason many of us would have.

He has a wife who works at CSU and a daughter who goes to school in Fort Collins. Combine that with “the greatest place to live in America” and you’ve got your reason why Tom Hilbert is still the coach of the CSU volleyball team.

“You find a place to live that fits so many things that me and (my wife) Leslie and (daughter) Myles want in our life, and it becomes this stability thing that you want to keep,” Hilbert said.

There you have it, yet another reason to be thankful this isn’t Laramie, or Colorado Springs, or any other campus nearby. If were, there’s a good chance Pauly K would be looking for his fourth major coach in the last two years.

Because unfortunately, stability is something that has become increasingly rare in college athletics – and certainly here at CSU.

But thankfully, Fort Collins is a unique place. So unique, that it makes a bigger salary and a bigger conference seem smaller.

And it appears that Hilbert isn’t the only coach with some longevity.

Just yesterday women’s basketball coach Kristen Holt was rewarded with a contract extension, one that follows her counterpart, men’s coach Tim Miles, earlier this year. And if his first year is any indication, then football coach Steve Fairchild should be here for awhile, too.

But with the smallest budget in the Mountain West, CSU sports don’t enjoy many of the resources its competitors do, which can make stability even that much harder. Just recently did construction begin for an indoor practice facility, a basic necessity for many Division-I schools.

Therefore, for now we’ll have to rely on what we do have, which — as Hilbert has made me realize — is a great place to live.

Sports columnist Sean Star can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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