Shadyside volleyball coach Archer, staff resign

Mercer takes over on interim basis as LTs prep for season opener in a little more than a week

SHADYSIDE — With a little more than a week until its first match of the season, Shadyside High School is breaking in a new volleyball coaching staff.

Cindy Archer, who guided the Tigers to a 23-3 record, a regular season OVAC crown, the school’s first sectional championship and district appearance last fall in her first season, resigned Friday, along with assistant Tara Carpenter. Morgan Carpenter, another assistant, stepped down last month.

“She came in (Friday) and told (Principal John Poilek) she was quitting,” Shadyside superintendent John Haswell said Friday evening.

The Times Leader received information from Tara Carpenter on Wednesday for its annual volleyball preview. Friday, Carpenter said via text she, Archer and Morgan Carpenter had all resigned.

Eric Mercer, listed on the information as a volunteer assistant coach, has been elevated to interim head coach, Haswell said, and will be recommended for the head job at the next board of education meeting on Monday, Aug. 19.

That’s also the night the LTs open the season at home vs. Bellaire. A home game against Caldwell is scheduled the following night.

Archer said ongoing tensions with the father and mother of two players in the program led to the resignations.

“This wasn’t a decision I took lightly at all,” Archer said.

Archer said sparring between her and the couple had been going on for some time and reached a crescendo this offseason when the father “verbally attacked” her at a club volleyball match involving one of his daughters.

“I was accused of being vindictive,” Archer said.

When asked about parental involvement playing a role in Archer’s resignation, Haswell said, “You’ll have to get that from Cindy.”

Archer said there were battles over things such as varsity letters, numbers on uniforms and playing time.

“They wanted their youngest daughter to play varsity and I would not put her on the varsity team until they tried out,” Archer said. “They wanted her on varsity before we even had a practice.”

Archer said she and members of her staff were “advised into doing a lot of things that we felt were not right” in terms of team personnel and “advised” to do things they were told would be “in the best interest of everyone.

“Everyday it seemed like I was getting a call from someone that (the parents) were complaining about something.”

In the end, Archer said, the interference just became too much for her and her staff.

While she agreed the timing of her decision wasn’t good, she wished the team nothing but the best of luck going forward.

“I love the girls,” she said. “They’re a great bunch of girls and I’m looking forward them having a great season and winning the OVAC.”

Mercer, the program’s fourth head coach in the program’s eighth season, was the head coach at East Richland Christian for five seasons. He played club volleyball at Ohio University and has coached club volleyball in the area.

“It’s very tough that it happened basically a week before the season starts,” Haswell said. “But when you’re dealt a hand you move forward and get the kids regrouped and try to get them ready for the season.

“We’ve been having a lot of success and I think we have a talented group this year.”