Coach Lynne Givens, A Lasting Impression!
The first time I heard of Green County Volleyball coach Lynne Givens was during a conversation that I had with then softball coach Mielle Distefano back in 2007 while I was doing a softball preview interview. The former LaRue County softball and volleyball coach talked at length about the ever changing Region and how the sport was getting better. It was one of many talks that I had with her and somehow Lynne’s name was mentioned when she remarked that one of the high marks of her volleyball coaching career was a win over one of Lynne’s Lady Dragon teams. A Green County graduate, Mielle felt very highly of Givens and the friendship that they had not only as coaches, but as rivals as well. That’s when I also discovered that Givens was fighting two battles: one with the powerful volleyball forces in the states and the other with a silent opponent.
When I found out that Givens had lost her battle just recently, I immediately flashed back to the first time I met her right after Green County beat Central Hardin for the 2008 5th Region Volleyball Championship at Central Hardin. Her teams were always worked and played hard for her and were usually fundamentally sound. Former player Meg Hartfield once told me that Givens always preached that “We were not allowed to let the ball touch the ground and that loose balls were NOT AN OPTION at Green County.” I remember our interview lasted but a few minutes, but I immediately was struck by how friendly she was and much later on she always gave me a good interview including the multiple times we had her on our radio show “The Sporting Times radio show.” She always came through for us and that was something that I never forgot.
I also remember her telling me that she was a Louisville Cardinal fan and her daughter Hannah once told me that she was more of a basketball fan. Hannah once told me how loud it might get in a room that she occupied when a Louisville Mens game was on television. She said you could hear her scream “Why Are You Doing This ? That’s A Foul!”
Hannah also told me a little known fact about her mother in that she would drink numerous cups of coffee in the morning and that was why she was always pumped up when she taught early. By the way, Givens taught Biology and advanced Biology and Hannah, the oldest of the three children had her for two years.
Lynne was an advocate for cancer awareness. She never had a problem talking to me about her progress and how she was doing. For a person, who always seemed to be happy, energetic and full of life it was sometimes hard to believe she was sometimes fighting another battle.
I remember the 2013 Region Championship at John Hardin High School when her team of talented athletes defeated her old friend Bill Rineker’s Central Hardin team. It was Lynne’s team’s fourth Region Title and Green County’s fourth trip to the State Tournament. The match was played while a storm was going on outside the building and it was a fitting setting for the furious performance by the Lady Dragons.
The following season, Given’s team rallied against a determined Bethlehem squad and survived the first five game set in the 5th Region Championship to win their last title under her. A season later, Givens stepped down as head coach and with it over 150-wins next to 54 losses and five trips to state.
“It was time.” she said. Her daughter was now in college and she wanted to spend more time watching her play. After all, her long time assistant and friend Dan Collison had also left. The two of them had both coached their daughters and it seemed like a good time to move on.
After that, Givens would make an appearance here and there during the 5th Region Tournament. I did see her once at a LaRue County basketball game a year later and that was it. Still, I figured she would surface again for an appearance or an interview about the game she loved.
I remember she once told me that our region would not be able to compete with the Big Three (Assumption, Mercy, Sacred Heart) until every girl playing in our area was playing Club Ball. I always remembered that and when I watched Assumption beat Ballard in the 7th Region playoffs last month I thought of Lynne.
I can’t imagine all the people she touched in the game and outside of it. One of the strangest stories I still think about is how Bill Rineker became an assistant coach for Green County just during KHSAA State Tournament back in 2013 for Lynne because Collison had an emergency (a death in the family) to attend to. It seemed strange seeing Bill in that green shirt on the Lady Dragons sideline, but according to daughter Hannah it wasn’t. “It really wasn’t a big deal, because he and Dan are so close and he and Mom are so close. It was really nice for him to step in like that.’
That’s what friends do.
Now she’s gone.
When Mitchell Henry passed away from cancer it seemed like he was taken way too soon. Henry was in the prime of his life with so many years left to make an even bigger mark not in just football, but life as well. Givens passing seems the same way. She was only 52 and like Henry had so much more to give to the world not just the people she had influenced positively, but the ones who will not get to know her even if for the short time like I did.
It will truly be strange walking into Green County’s gym without thinking of Givens and the mark she left there. With the KHSAA State Volleyball Tournament being played this weekend, it would be nice if everyone in attendance could just stop and take a silent moment to reflect on the game that they are playing and the one we love watching and maybe just a second the coach that just left us way too soon.