Kirby Hamblin helps wife Hannah adjust to new life as Cavegirls head coach
"Love means never having to say you're sorry...even after you spend three hours complaining to your husband about a botched line judge call on the first point in a five-set volleyball match."
- Hannah Hamblin, Carlsbad volleyball coach
Go to a high school sports banquet and there’s a good chance someone will make sure to thank the coach’s spouse for putting up with all the various issues a coach deals with throughout the season. But what exactly does the spouse have to endure throughout a season?
The Current-Argus spoke with Kirby Hamblin, the husband of Hannah Hamblin, the new Carlsbad volleyball coach, on his new responsibilities since his wife took over the volleyball program in 2019.
Kirby and Hannah Hamblin met in junior high school. They started dating in 2011 and have been married for four years. Last year the Hamblins moved to Carlsbad from the Farmington area because of Kirby’s job with Chevron and now have a 16-month old daughter, Bliss.
Hannah was a competitive volleyball player for Kirtland Central in high school, earning three varsity letters and was an All-District selection and her team’s Most Valuable Player her senior year before attending New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, N.M.
Kirby was used to Hannah being emotional after a rough game when she was a player so when his wife took over coaching duties he noted that her reactions are mostly the same. He said now she also monitors her player’s reactions to questionable referee calls in addition to her own.
“Having to deal with the emotional aspects are tough,” Hannah said. “When the girls get on the court, you don’t know which one of them just broke up with their boyfriend or who’s having a really rough home life. That’s what kills me the most is finding that balance of being strict with the girls but realizing they have a life outside the court that impacts them when they’re on the court. It can be hard to balance.”
On game nights Kirby knows his job after a match is to listen to Hannah talk and try to help her think about the positives, not simply focus on the negatives.
“I was unable to attend the Clovis away game but I heard about how the team played and I just got ready to help her see the good things she had done in the year,” Kirby said.
"I asked her how her setters were setting the ball and how were her hitters hitting. It was a good mixture of the good and assessing what needs to be addressed the following week in practice. Since this was her first year I wanted her to think about the improvements the team had (from the start of the season).”
Hannah was appreciative of the assistance Kirby provides, even if it’s simply listening to her discuss a call she felt should have gone her team’s way.
“Kirby’s a very good listener when I have to vent,” Hannah said. “I don’t ever apologize for telling him how I feel because it’s important for him to know how I feel. He knows why I’m mad and that I’m not being grouchy. We’re that couple that we’ll be mad about something for a night and then the next day we’re over it. We move on really easily. I’ll talk to Kirby about anything and then I’m good and over it.”
At home games and some away games Kirby will be in the gymnasium with Bliss in her stroller, making sure Bliss has her tablet, snacks and diapers.
“I’m just the other parent during games,” Kirby said. “So Hannah can focus on her job and not have to worry if Bliss has been fed or to worry if she’s still alive.”
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Kirby and Bliss are limited in their ability to travel with the Cavegirls for tournaments but Bliss is now old enough to recognize her mom’s face on videos. This allows the family to video chat to make sure Bliss doesn’t miss her mother too much. Kirby noted when they video chatted after the Moriarty tournament that was the first time he saw Bliss clap her hands in joy while able to see her mother.
Once Hannah accepted the job to become the new volleyball coach Kirby knew he would have to make some changes to his schedule to help accommodate his wife.
“I’ve had to hustle home a lot more often and make sure I can plan out my day more efficiently to make sure Bliss doesn’t have to go to a babysitter so Hannah’s not walking around with Bliss on her hip at practice,” Kirby said. “I try to make it where I can take Bliss off her hands as quickly as possible.”
He’s become quite accustomed to handling calls from his wife on the fly and making the best out of the limited information she occasionally provides him before expecting him to fill in all the blanks.
“Before going to Belen, (Hannah) didn’t have the right leggings,” he said. “Hannah said I had to get this brand in this size and by the way (her) phone is about to die and to meet (her) at the school by 4:30. So I had to go to Big 5 trying to go through a massive selection they don’t really have, trying to find the right size, style and color while holding Bliss. I ended up buying three pairs of leggings and telling (Hannah) to pick the ones she needed and I’d just return the others. She ended up taking all three for herself.”
Kirby has admitted there have been instances that he simply has to take a deep breath and realize he doesn’t have to, or should be expected to, handle every situation himself.
“We were at the hotel in Belen. It was about 10:30 at night and one of the other rooms called ours,” Kirby said. “All I can hear over the phone is ‘Coach, do you have a plunger?’ I’m rolling my eyes, wondering how they found the time to clog the toilet even though they had just gotten to their rooms. I told them they were on their own and I wasn’t going to help out.”
The Cavegirls had a rough start to the season but started to gel before the district season began. Carlsbad faced off against Aztec, a rival from Hannah’s playing days when she was still Hannah Washburn, in a game she wanted to win. Carlsbad was able to get the win in pool play, giving Hannah her favorite memory of the season.
“Aztec was solid. I told my girls this game was war to me," she said. "After we won that game my girls were so excited, they were acting like a bunch of buffoons because we won that pool play game. Kirby was at the game and afterwards he brought Bliss into the celebration huddle. We just lost our minds and were so pumped for that win.”
Hannah admits she’s lucky to have found and married Kirby and considers everything he does with the team and their daughter to be excellent, especially when she was unaware of the time commitment she’d have to agree to with the volleyball team.
“I never really put it together that I’d have to go to a tournament for two days and leave Bliss alone with him when she was a baby,” Hannah said. “He’s perfectly capable. He’s a great dad. As far as a parenting category goes he’s like 100 percent. He’s really good with Bliss. He’s probably her favorite person in the whole wide world. I only gave birth to her. She’s a big-time daddy’s girl.”
Matthew Asher can be reached at 575-628-5524, email@example.com or @Caveman_Masher on Twitter.