Friday, July 18, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> New head coach at CHS

Leader sports editor

The Lady Panther volleyball program just completed its annual summer camp, and the 2014 camp was the first under new program leader Kham Chanthaphasouk, who takes over as Cabot head volleyball coach after former coach DeAnna Campbell stepped down after three years at the helm.

Campbell took over the program in 2011 after the 30-plus year career of Terry Williams.

Chanthaphasouk applied for the Cabot job when Campbell got it, but CHS athletic director Steve Roberts was impressed enough with the France-raised former Sheridan coach to call him and ask him to apply this time around.

Chanthaphasouk coached at Sheridan for eight years, the last three as head coach, and took the Lady Yellowjackets to the state quarterfinals each of those years. Since 2009, he has been a teacher at Benton High School, and has continued to coach in Little Rock’s junior Olympic volleyball program.

Born in Laos, Chanthaphasouk’s family moved to France when he was very young, where he became in involved in competitive volleyball. He had to temporarily give it up when he came to Little Rock Central as an exchange student and found that Arkansas didn’t offer boys’ high school volleyball.

He stayed in Arkansas after graduation and attended UALR and later the University of Arkansas, neither of which have a men’s volleyball program. But he did compete; joining the U.S. Open national team and winning a regional championship at the A level. He competed on the national scene from 1993 to 1998.

He was also a volunteer coach for the UA women before planting roots in central Arkansas as a Sheridan and JO coach, and winning one national championship as coach of a level B team.

The Lady Panthers didn’t begin summer practices until July 7, so Chanthaphasouk hasn’t had much time with the team, but he likes what he’s seen so far.

“There’s a lot of talent on this team,” Chanthaphasouk said. “There’s not a lot of experience, though. I think most of the starters and key players last year were seniors, but I see a lot of potential in this group. I think this is the perfect place to start lifting volleyball in central Arkansas up to the level it’s at in the northwest part of the state.

“For so many years it was just Jonesboro and Fort Smith because they had those strong year-round programs. Now the northwest is becoming very strong and Conway is building a really strong program. I see no reason why Cabot shouldn’t be among programs. Coach Campbell obviously did a great job of getting that started and I hope to keep making it better and better.”

Campbell had a core group of sophomores her first year that remained the core group of starters all three years. They won just one conference game their sophomore year. They made the playoffs but lost in the first round their junior season, then made state and advanced to the quarterfinals last season.

“This is a program that’s headed in the right direction and I’m very happy to be here and have the opportunity to continue to help it grow,” Chanthaphasouk said.