PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University women's volleyball program will have a new leader in place for the 2018 season.
Joan Forge, the winningest volleyball coach in New Hampshire high school history, has been named the fourth coach in the 22-year history of the women's volleyball program. Forge is a Plymouth State alumna, earning a Bachelor of Science in 1977 and a Master of Education in 2000. She takes over for Chris Kilmer, who resigned in November after seven seasons to become the Assistant Director of Communications for Athletics.
"I am thrilled to have Joan Forge join the Panther family as our head women's volleyball coach," said Kim Bownes, Director of Athletics. "Joan is a legend in the world of New Hampshire volleyball and she brings a wealth of knowledge to our program. She is definitely someone all parents would want their daughters to play for and I'm excited to see our program continue to flourish under her leadership."
Forge has spent the last 42 years coaching high school sports in New Hampshire, including 33 years as the head volleyball coach at Gilford High School. She leaves the Golden Eagles program as the winningest volleyball coach in New Hampshire volleyball history, sporting a 542-83 record.
"I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my coaching career," said Forge. "What a wonderful opportunity for me to give back to Plymouth State; the school I graduated from and where I was a student-athlete."
A three-sport athlete during her time at Plymouth State, Forge has also coached varsity softball and basketball during her coaching career, amassing over 1,000 varsity wins across the three sports. She spent 37 years as a physical education teacher at Ashland Public School, Gilford Middle High School and Gilford High School, prior to retiring from teaching in 2014.
Forge's name has been synonymous with success among the high school volleyball circuit. She owns New Hampshire records with 15 state titles, a run of nine-straight championships, a 92-game winning streak and 24 consecutive trips to the state semifinals. In her 33 years as a head volleyball coach her team reached the state semifinals 30 times.
In addition to induction into the Plymouth State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2002, she was enshrined in the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA) Coaches Hall of Fame in 2001, the NHIAA Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Glen Rock High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.
She was named the New Hampshire Volleyball Coaches Association (NHVCA) Coach of the Year an impressive eight times (1997, 1999, 2001-04, 2006, 2015) and the National Federation Coaches Association Northeast Sectional Volleyball Coach of the Year twice (2002, 2004), while coaching 14 New Hampshire Volleyball Players of the Year, two Boston Globe Scholastic/Athletic Volleyball Players of the Year, two NHVCA Scholastic/Athletic Volleyball Players of the Year and one Gatorade Player of the Year.
Forge is also the owner and director of "Pass Set Crush" volleyball camps. The program offers an overnight, outdoor adventure camp with a concentration in volleyball for girls entering 7th - 9th grades at Geneva Point Center on Lake Winnipesaukee in nearby Moultonborough. The overnight camp celebrates its 20th year in 2018. Pass Set Crush also offers a summer day camp for girls entering kindergarten - 6th grade.
"I grew up in New Jersey and chose Plymouth State to further my education," added Forge. "PSU is one of the major reasons why I remained in New Hampshire for my entire teaching and coaching careers. I feel blessed to be able to go full circle."
Forge inherits a program that has qualified for the Little East Tournament every season and posted a 61-29 record over the last three years. The Panthers finished 2017 with a 19-11 overall record (4-3 LEC), narrowly missing out on a third-straight 20-win season.
As the fourth seed in the Little East Tournament, PSU knocked off fifth-seeded Western Connecticut State, 3-1, at home before falling to the top-seeded University of Massachusetts Boston, winner of eight of the last nine Little East titles, in the conference semifinals.