This article about EMU alumna Gina Campbell Troyer ’93 appeared in the 5/27/2021 Daily News-Record. A special education teacher at Turner Ashby High School in Bridgewater, Troyer coached varsity volleyball for 24 years. Her assistant coach this season is current EMU student-athlete Delanie Miller, who is interviewed in the article about Troyer’s impact and influence.
Troyer and two other EMU alumni, both educators, also helped to found and develop the Rockingham County Unified Basketball League basketball program, featured in a 2016 article here.
Volleyball has certainly brought joy to Gina Troyer’s life.
You don’t do it for as long as she did if you don’t get enjoyment out of it.
“I greatly enjoyed my time coaching,” the veteran Turner Ashby volleyball coach said. “I loved the relationships that were developed with my former players, members of the coaching staff, opposing coaches and parents of my players.”
But after 24 years leading the charge for the Knights, the 50-year-old Troyer said she is now ready to find other things that make her happy in life.
“I’ve decided to spend my time doing other things that bring me joy,” she said.
On Monday, Troyer informed the Daily News-Record that she had resigned as the volleyball coach at Turner Ashby. The move was approved by the Rockingham County School Board that evening and the school then released a statement early Tuesday.
“Coach Troyer is one of our most accomplished and respected head coaches,” Knights athletic director Will Crockett said in the statement. “She coaches numerous athletes who went on to participate at the collegiate level but more importantly, she made a positive impact on her players and held them to a high standard of accountability in the classroom, on the court and in the community.”
Under Troyer, the Knights went 370-211 over the 24-year span and won eight Valley District titles. They also made four state-tournament appearances.
“I always felt you had to be at your best come TA night,” Spotswood coach Jim Roth said. “Gina had her teams ready to play us. She forced you to prepare at a higher level. Her competitiveness will be missed throughout the Valley.”
In 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014, Turner Ashby reached the state tournament each season. Her team won 20 or more games nine different times throughout her career.
“What a sad day in the Valley to see such a knowledgeable and legendary coach retire,” Waynesboro coach Lori Aleshire said when hearing the news. “She has touched so many lives over the years, not only in her program but others, too. Gina’s personality is contagious with such a strong sense of humor. I will never forget our last hug this year on the court. Even though I hate to see her leave the game, I know she did it on her own terms and she will forever be missed.”
Former Eastern Mennonite coach Jonathan Williams, who spent eight years at the school, said that he admired the longevity of Troyers’ decorated career.
“When I began coaching at EMHS eight years ago, Gina was the coaching standard for Valley District volleyball,” Williams said. “I can say, from a private school perspective, playing a Gina-Troyer-coached Turner Ashby team was always a tough match. The longevity of her coaching career is something that all coaches who truly love their sport and what they do, aspire to, and she has meant more than what can be measured to our sport, the athletes she has coached and the families she has impacted here in the Shenandoah Valley and as such she’ll be greatly missed from parents, players and fellow coaches alike.”
Troyer recalled fond memories, such as beating former private-school powerhouse Grace Christian in Staunton five sets, rallying for a five-set regional win at Stuarts Draft, and beating other quality teams such as Lord Botetourt, Spotswood and Staunton River in the regional tournament various years.
“It was just great kids playing some amazing volleyball and playing as a team each and every night,” Troyer said. “When you are able to see that happen with your team, it is one of the best parts of coaching.”
But for all the success on the court, it was what the Knights accomplished off of it that left Troyer proud of the legacy she leaves behind at TAHS.
“I take pride in knowing that during my coaching tenure, we were a program that focused on our players being held to high expectations in the classroom, on the court and in the community,” Troyer said. “No exceptions, no excuses. It was not a program for everyone, but we did not compromise our standards — ever.”
Troyer said she has many former players that have become great friends over the years and several have even returned to assist her in coaching recently.
One of those players was Delanie Miller, a 2019 graduate and current sophomore at Eastern Mennonite University. She praised Troyer for her support recently and said she learned a lot this past season in her first year as an assistant coach.
“Honestly, Troyer was not only my volleyball coach but was a huge mentor to me throughout high school,” said Miller, who was a standout libero for the Knights in high school. “She not only taught me lessons on the court, but also incorporated teaching us lessons for off the court. She always told us that we were more than just a volleyball program and that we all should be working as hard as we could in the classroom as well as being honorable people. I could never thank her enough for what she prepared me for after graduating high school, especially preparing me for college volleyball. She made the sport fun for every practice, but also made us work our butts off. I wouldn’t have wanted any other coach.”
Troyer played at Luray High School herself and then went on to EMU as well.
She said that she has no regrets about the decision to get into coaching as an assistant 28 years ago and to eventually become a head coach a few years later.
“Several of my best friends are either coaches on my staff, former players or parents of former players and I am so grateful that those people came into my life because of my decision 28 years ago to coach a sport that I love and one of the sports that I played in high school and college,” Troyer said.
A new passion that Troyer has found outside of the volleyball court has been animal rescues. She helps owners find and trap their lost or missing dogs, transports dogs for many different rescues of injured wildlife and also volunteers with Dogs Deserve Better Blue Ridge and the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Those are just a portion of her investment to giving back to the local community.
“It’s an absolute passion of mind and one that I don’t get to focus on as much as I’d like to due to coaching,” Troyer said. “Stepping away was an easy decision for me as it will give me the opportunity to finally spend time doing those things.”
For 24 years, volleyball has brought tremendous joy to Troyer on a daily basis.
She’ll stick around the area, attend games as a fan and still keep up with how local programs do, especially at Turner Ashby and Luray High School.
But now Troyer is ready for new experiences and joyful moments in life.
And that, she said, leaves her with no regrets about her most recent decision.
“We emphasized coaching our players to be respectful and responsible young ladies with strong character while helping them become good volleyball players,” Troyer said. “And that’s how we did it for 24 years. Once again, [we did that] with no exceptions — and no regrets.”