Ashland University volleyball head coach Cass Dixon announced Tuesday (March 13) that she will be resigning her position after seven seasons at the helm of the program in order spend more time with her family.
Dixon leaves Ashland with a record of 131-82 and having taken the program to three NCAA Tournaments (2012, 2013, 2016). The Eagles also played in two Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament championship matches, and won the GLIAC South twice under Dixon.
"I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish here," said Dixon. "I'm proud of the student-athletes that have come through the program and have allowed me the opportunity to coach them. We've had some really great kids and families that have been here. They've allowed us to push them and make them strive for greatness and have fun while doing it."
"Cass Dixon turned our volleyball program into a first-class organization in every facet," said Al King, AU's director of athletics. "She valued the student-athlete experience as much as any coach on our staff. She was tireless in working to make life better for her players. I'll always remember the compassion she had for her student-athletes."
Ultimately, with all the time she has spent with her volleyball family as a head coach, Dixon felt the time was right to dedicate her full focus to her family at home. She and her husband, Troy, have two children, Grahm, 14, and Marin, 13.
"To be a good coach requires you to build relationships with your players and to give an extraordinary amount of time to make it successful and have it be more than about just playing volleyball," said Dixon. "You spend so much time with your student-athletes, with your assistants, that it's like a family. It's hard when you have a family, too, trying to balance those things out is challenging. You get to a point where you go, 'I have to be there 100 percent for my family.'"
Dixon took the Eagles to the GLIAC Tournament six times and advanced to the semifinals in four of those trips. In all, she coached 14 players who were named to the All-GLIAC first or second teams.
"Cass is held in high regard in the college volleyball community because of her insight and vision. She's seen as a leader in the GLIAC by coaches and administrators," King said. "Under her direction, we became a program that could talk about playing for a conference title and reaching the NCAA postseason. We did both of those things with her as the head coach. Some of the most successful players in school history were recruited and coached by Cass. This program can continue to move forward and thrive because of the foundation put in place by Cass."
The Eagles will bring back most of the team from last season, including a pair of All-GLIAC standouts in rising juniors Shelby Woycik and Michaela Ping, and rising senior Reanne Neal. Ashland was 14-15 last season and qualified for the GLIAC Tournament, despite having just one senior gain a majority of playing time.
"The train still keeps moving even if I jump off. It still keeps going," Dixon said. "I fully expect with the level of talent and level of commitment that the team keeps on that path. They will continue to welcome in those new players that have committed and are already part of the family. I hope they have a successful season and make me go, 'why did you stop now?'"
Dixon has also served as an assistant athletic director and the senior woman administrator this school year.
"Her experience as a coach at several levels and as a former Division I student-athlete gave her an excellent perspective that she shared with our student-athletes and staff," said King. "I will always be appreciative of the contributions she made in that role."
A search for the next coach of the AU volleyball program will now commence.
"We will move in a timely manner to fill our head coaching position," King said. "We will do what we always strive to do – find qualified candidates who believe in the mission of the athletic department and the University. We will move as fast as we can, but we will not hurry or cut corners."