Following the team's loss in the Division II distric finals Thursday, it wouldn't have been Don Conser's style to say he was calling it a career. That's just not how the 35-year coach operates.
Conser didn't plan on coaching in 2011 but because of a strange set of circumstances he did, and as usual his Lady Quakers did not disappoint.
The team finished sixth in the Division II Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association Poll, won its 26th-straight league title and finished 24-2.
With a smile on his face and a sly wink he said his retirement was simply "rumors."
Knowing how much he loves the game, it's hard to imagine a Salem varsity volleyball team without him at the helm.
In 2011, Conser was as fiery and as feisty as ever. His blunt honesty is refreshing in a world full of sports cliches. Conser has always told it like it is. When his team hasn't performed, he's said so. When he doesn't agree with a referee's call, he's anything but quiet about it.
In high school sports these days, coaches come and go at the drop of a hat making Conser's tenure nothing short of miraculous.
His tenacity and ability to coach the game he loves has made volleyball an institution in Salem.
To win 26 straight league titles is absolutely unheard of in any sport, on any planet. Conser won 636 games and averaged 18 wins per season.
"I think once the girls in Salem become involved with volleyball, they begin to take it very seriously," he said earlier this year. "By the time they make varsity, they know this program has a history, and we've got to keep that going."
A very large part of that history is Conser's doing. He will consistently deflect credit to the hundreds of players that have come through the halls of Salem High School, but it was Conser's passion for the game that made Salem volleyball what it is.
In no place like Salem volleyball is the old adage "success breeds success" truer.
Conser might be done coaching. He might not. But one thing is for certain. He's going to go out the way he wants to go out. With 636 wins, no other coach on the planet has earned that right more then Conser.
E-mail B.J. Lisko at firstname.lastname@example.org