NC State announced Linda Hampton-Keith as its new volleyball coach on December 23. Hampton-Keith came to Raleigh after spending 14 seasons as an assistant coach at the Division 1 level, including the previous five at Arizona State. She also has worked with the USA Volleyball Development Program for the past 12 years.
Hampton-Keith has hit the ground running while also trying to settle into her new life in Raleigh with her husband and one-year old daughter. She recently took some time to speak with Pack Pride and discussed her decision to accept the job among several other things.
What was it about NC State that appealed most to you and led you to believe that it was a place that you would like to work?
I was pretty intrigued by everything going on here, with what little I knew about it. As I got a little further each step of the process, it got a little bit more interesting and appealing.
I was very happy where I was. I had great relationships and I loved coaching where I was coaching before. For me to take that next step, it was really important that it was the right fit. NC State had everything that I was looking for.
What was your first impression of Debbie Yow?
I was impressed on so many levels. It happened really fast--I think I flew in on a Sunday--and then Debbie is here on a Sunday to meet with me. We had a great conversation. I think the most impressive thing was to go out and see the progress that is happening. Obviously we talked about Reynolds, the movement that is happening there, and we walked around. You see the facilities and she is putting her money where her mouth is in terms of progress is happening. She is making change and it is exciting to see.
Every person I met, the conversations that happened with people that are excited with where NC State is going athletically made think this is a really special place because the people are special.
NC State is currently renovating Reynolds Coliseum. Did that impress you when you visited the campus?
It is fascinating. I have been all of the country and when you see what is going on, the changes that are being made, that is what it takes to make the team competitive. This is coming down to recruiting and the facilities arm race, if you will.
And so yes, as I was looking for the right fit and to be here where it is happening and to be here where it is going to make an immediate impact sooner, rather than later, is what is really exciting. That makes it stand out as a school that is going for ACC championships and national titles.
How do feel about living in Raleigh?
I love it. My husband and I have a one-year old. I was not super-familiar with the area but everyone, and I do mean everyone, that I have talked to across the country the resounding consensus is that it is a great place to have a family and a great place to live. It has been true.
What most appeals to you about the area and are there characteristics about the area that help with recruiting?
What I really love about Raleigh is I still have access to the airport and it is a city but it still has such a close knit feel to it.
One of the huge reasons, and it may sound silly, but as you are checking off boxes having an airport nearby was important to me because we travel so much. It becomes a quality of life-thing and to have an airport so close to my house and 15 minutes from campus.
It is not just huge from a standpoint of me traveling but also for those coming to visit. You don’t have to fly and then drive for two hours and I think that a huge benefit when we are asking people make the investment of coming to visit. It is easily accessible.
One of the neatest things is that you have got a college town feel but it is accessible to so many things. I had to run downtown and I thought this is pretty cool. If you have a weekend free, go to the beach or the mountains. That sounds awesome. I haven’t done that in a long time. I think it is great and it is very attractive to recruits.
What are your thoughts on ACC volleyball?
There is separation that is kind of happening. The ACC is one of the fastest growing volleyball conferences. If you look at the level of play, we are sending four, five and hopefully six teams to the NCAA Tournament. It just goes to show that the level is only going to get better.
What message do you have for NC State fans reading this?
I am so appreciative of the opportunity from our administration here and their support. Everyone has been so welcoming to me. Everyone genuinely wants this program to be great and that is the most motivating and inspirational thing This coaching staff and these athletes walk into the gym everyday and feel so supported.
We feel that we are not here by ourselves. There is this whole community rallying behind us and supporting us in so many ways. You couldn’t ask for a better situation to walk into.