Eli Crawford and Meredith Stinnette Hall were recently announced as new head coaches for varsity programs at Eastern Mennonite School. (Photos courtesy of EMS)

EMS taps two alumni for head coaching positions

Eli Crawford ’11 and Meredith Stinnette Hall ’20, both alumni of Eastern Mennonite University, have been announced as new head coaches at Eastern Mennonite School in Harrisonburg, Va. Crawford and Hall will lead the boys varsity basketball team and girls varsity volleyball team, respectively.

Crawford picks up the reins from Chad Seibert, who coached the past three seasons. Crawford was assistant coach with Seibert for each of those seasons.

Crawford is well known in the area having been a standout basketball and football player at Robert E. Lee High School. After playing basketball for two years at Potomac State in West Virginia and Central Florida Community College, he landed at Eastern Mennonite University, where he was key to the men’s basketball team appearance in the Elite Eight NCAA Tournament play and finishing fourth in the final NCAA Division III basketball poll in 2011.

In an interview following that historic run, Crawford talked about his journey to the EMU community — which now extends to the EMHS community — and reflected on his passion for being a positive role model for kids.

“I stayed out of trouble as a kid, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had my times of personal adversity,” he said. “I can see God’s work in my life, and I want to extend that knowledge to the next generation and be there for others the way that people have been there for me.”

“Coach Crawford is committed to developing young people not just on the court, but also in life,” says Andrew Gascho, athletic director. “His experience, energy and focus on fundamentals will push athletes to be at the top of their game and be great teammates. I am so excited to see the team come together under his leadership and compete at a high level.”

Hall moves into the head volleyball position after serving as assistant coach for the EMS 2020-21 season, coaching a local area travel team, and taking part in leading volleyball camps with a former coach at Alta Vista High School where she was a standout outside hitter, graduating in 2016.

A third grade teacher at Waterman Elementary, Hall graduated from Eastern Mennonite University in 2020 with a degree in elementary education. Her college volleyball career saw her compete in 103 matches, and named two seasons to the All-Academic ODAC (Old Dominion Athletic Conference) team, as well as a Royals Athlete of the Week in 2019.

With only four seniors returning to the court and no juniors coming out for the team this fall, Hall has been eyeing younger players during open gym times, considering how to build a strong varsity team presence.

“I’m excited to see what we can do,” said Hall. “I love the sport. I’ve learned so much over the years from the different coaches I’ve played for. I’m excited to help create a great experience for each individual and the team as a whole.”

In 2019, she reflected on her play, saying “I want my teammates to see God in me when they see me on and off the court,” she explained, “so I think that has been another big motivation for me to show people the abilities and gifts that God has blessed me with and using those abilities the best I can…”

“We’re so fortunate to have Meredith commit to our program,” says Andrew Gascho, athletic director. “Last year was hard on the program, due to COVID. I have full confidence that Coach Hall will bring the positive attitude and resiliency we need to create an incredible experience for our student athletes.”

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