One week after becoming a hall-of-fame volleyball coach, Lori Hanaway found herself back in the gym where so many of her storied career’s victories occurred.
Hanaway, who came out of retirement this fall to coach Lee’s Summit, had faced Lee’s Summit West before, but this was the first time she would coach against her old team on her old floor, which is in the same building where she works every day.
“I was thinking about all the hours I spent in that gym,” Hanaway said. “It was a little weird, it was a little awkward, but I kind of knew it would be like that.”
Awkward, perhaps, but still a little comforting. Even in the heat of another Suburban Conference Gold match, which Lee’s Summit gutted out for a 26-24, 26-24 victory Oct. 10, Hanaway knew she was surrounded by friends and supporters on both sides of the gym.
“It’s a little comforting to walk into the school where you still teach at,” Hanaway said. “It’s a school that’s supportive of you and that you support. You’re just facing them on the other side of the volleyball court that night.”
Hanaway still teaches at Lee’s Summit West, the same school where she spent five seasons as coach before stepping down in 2015.
She retired mainly to watch her daughter, Abby, play her senior year of volleyball at O’Hara, but she was ready to return when Julie Carver retired as Lee’s Summit’s coach last spring.
Hanaway resumed a 26-year career that, entering the season, included 724 wins and eight state championships — seven at O’Hara and one at St. Teresa’s Academy — along with two runner-up state finishes at West.
Soon, Hanaway will be enshrined in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. She was announced as one of 16 individuals and three teams to be inducted next month during a ceremony Nov. 12 in Independence.
“It’s definitely humbling,” Hanaway said. “When the called me and when I went to the press conference, there were former Chiefs players and Royals players and it was kind of like, ‘What am I doing here?’” Hanaway said. “It was just one of those things where it was like, ‘Wow, this is awesome.’”
Hanaway will be inducted with the likes of former Royals great Kevin Seitzer, former Chiefs star Bill Maas and former Missouri standout Martin Rucker.
But she will also be joined by legendary Oak Grove wrestling coach Bob Glasgow, former Raytown swimming coach Jim Aziere and Olathe Northwest football coach Chip Sherman, who won 197 games and three state titles at Platte County.
“I always love those occasions where you run into all these other people that have spent their career in high school sports,” Hanaway said. “You know them and they know you, and it’s just comfortable.”
Hanaway said the honor reflects not just on her, but on everyone she has coached and worked with through the years.
“The first thing that comes to your mind is that I’m lucky that I get to do a job that I love and am passionate about,” Hanaway said. “Immediately, you think about the great players and great teams. And nowm when you’ve been doing it long enough, some of these kids that you coached are now married and have kids. It kind of makes it come full circle.”
Hanaway’s current team had to work hard to get by West, which beat Lee’s Summit in two sets to start the season.
Both back-and-forth sets ended in the same fashion — the Titans would lead late, only to have the Tigers rally late with superior blocking. Both sets finished with Lee’s Summit getting points off blocks.
“With the rivalry and a strong team like West, you know you’re going to go in there and fight for every point,” Hanaway said. “That’s how the game was. You know it’s going to be a point-by-point affair and you’ll have to work and fight and sweat for every point.”