High school volleyball: Karen Towles returning as head coach at Lakeview Academy

Mar. 17—A short time after stepping away from one head coaching job at Lakeview Academy, Karen Towles is stepping into another one.

More specifically, the longtime physical education teacher and coach at the Gainesville private school is stepping back a job she's previously held after being announced as Lakeview's new volleyball coach Friday.

"Karen is not only an outstanding teacher and coach, but she is also a mentor and role model for students of all ages," Lakeview Academy head of school John Simpson said in an emailed statement Friday. "She never misses an opportunity to engage a student in conversation that may not occur in the classroom. She will do an excellent job with our Lady Lions, and we look forward to the 2023 season."

Towles has spent the 2022-23 school year as interim head coach of Lakeview's girls basketball team and guided the Lady Lions (17-13) to the GIAA District 4-3A/4A championship and a berth in the Class 3A state semifinals.

However, she said that while she enjoyed the experience, she was more than happy to step aside for one of her assistants, Ken Huffman, who was announced as the permanent girls basketball head coach earlier this week, and return to coaching a sport she coached for five seasons more than a decade ago.

"It was always going to be an interim (basis) for basketball," said Towles, who has also coached junior varsity and middle school volleyball during her 23 years at Lakeview Academy. "I'm thrilled with the experience I had. It was an awesome run, that we had, but it was always (going to be) interim."

In her six seasons as volleyball head coach from 2006-11, Towles, who has also coached tennis in addition to volleyball and basketball at Lakeview, took the Lady Lions to the state tournament three times, including a berth in the GHSA's Sweet 16 in 2006.

She takes over a program that went 6-17 last fall after moving over to GIAA competition, though she is very excited about the possibility of improvement based on the anticipated depth in the program.

"I'm thrilled to come (back) in (to the program)," said Towles said. "We had an interest meeting (with prospective players recently), and over 30 kids have shown interest in playing next (season) in the varsity of JV level.

"Volleyball has always been a strong sport at Lakeview and I'm looking forward to ... working with the girls and getting the program back on track."