Prairie volleyball coach steps down

Fresh off state title, Doerfler wants more time with family

By Greg Jayne, Columbian opinion editor

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It wasn't a matter of burnout or timing or even a desire to go out on top, Andrea Doerfler says.

No, the Prairie High School volleyball coach stepped down shortly after winning a state title for reasons that hit much closer to home.

"It really just comes down to my family," Doerfler said, weeks after guiding the Falcons to the Class 3A state championship. "The head coach position is a big responsibility."

Doerfler leaves behind an impressive record of success. She spent five years at Prairie, a time that included a third-place state finish in 2009, a fifth-place finish in 2011, and the icing on the cake that was this fall's title.

That leaves athletic director Travis Drake in an unusual position. For the second time in eight months, he must replace a coach who just led Prairie to a state championship.

Al Aldridge left the Falcons in April, weeks after his program captured its sixth state title in girls basketball. Aldridge left to become women's basketball coach at Clark College and was replaced by Mike Smith.

"To have two state title trophies in our school at one time, it says a lot about our coaches and our student-athletes," Drake said. "Winning a state title in volleyball with nobody from the basketball program, it lets you know how many great female athletes we have."

Prairie's roster for the state volleyball tournament included four juniors and two sophomores, but the bulk of the playing time went to seniors.

"We're absolutely looking for someone who is going to keep the program going in the same direction," Drake said. "I talked to the returning varsity players. What they want is more of the same; the trick is to find someone who can make it their own but keep it going in the same direction."

Doerfler's direction will take her into the stands for Prairie volleyball matches. Her daughter Malea was a junior on the varsity squad last year, and daughter Tessa will be a freshman at Prairie next fall. Daughter Haley just wrapped up her sophomore season at Hawai'i Pacific University, and Andrea Doerfler wants to have more opportunities to watch her play.

She has confidence in the program she is leaving behind.

"Prairie's been a wonderful place to coach; there's tremendous administrative support," she said. "I feel the program is in a really good place."