News at CBC

DiShondra Goree

CBC Volleyball Team Pushes Forward After Sudden Death of Beloved Coach

Posted Date: October 25th, 2022
Tri-City Herald
By: Jeff Morrow

The Columbia Basin College volleyball team had two meetings in the players lounge upstairs this weekend. The first came after Friday night’s 3-0 win over Treasure Valley, raising their record to an impressive 23-1 this season. Players and coaches ate and celebrated each other. The second meeting came Saturday morning, when the players were told that head coach DiShondra Goree had passed away overnight, collapsing in her home.

CBC athletic director Scott Rogers said Goree’s fiancé, Marcus Dunnigan, notified school officials Saturday morning, and they brought the team together to mourn. Rogers said the coroner said she died from natural causes.

As an emotional Rogers recounted on Monday, “There is no playbook for this one (in how to handle a situation like this). Everyone is pretty devastated.” Goree — in her early 40s — had come to CBC three seasons ago to help get the school’s volleyball program back to a level where everyone thought it should be. She had come from Kentucky State University. And in that first, Covid impacted, spring season, the Hawks were 7-9 under Goree.

But last year, the team improved to 19-11 overall, 12-4 in East Region play. “She inherited a group of kids that first year that she didn’t recruit,” said Rogers. “Then she brought her own kids in in the fall. Last year, I think we all knew that North Idaho was the best team in the East Region. But they forfeited some matches because of Covid. We didn’t. And CBC won the East Region title.”

This year, CBC volleyball took the next step. The Hawks are 23-1 overall, 11-1 in East play tied with North Idaho (11-1), with Yakima Valley right behind at 10-2. All season long, CBC has been ranked among the top three teams in the entire NWAC. The rise happened so fast. “I attribute our rise to our administration in seeing the value of having our coaches on campus. When you’ve got that continuity, the kids stay here for the long haul,” said Rogers. And a lot of that was Goree, who mentored not only the players, but her young assistants.

“DiShondra had already met or exceeded all of our expectations,” said Rogers. This had been a great ride. “DiShondra called it the CBC Hawks volleyball tour, and it was headed next to Walla Walla this coming Wednesday,” said Rogers, who then remembered, “Which reminds me, I have to let (WWCC athletic director) Jeff (Reinland) know that we’re coming Wednesday.” The kids want to play. “We left it up to the players. We’ll support whatever they want to do. Everybody is just overwhelmed with this,” said Rogers.

It was Dunnigan who talked to the players on Saturday. “He told them to keep going. Keep fighting,” said Rogers. “He said that’s what she’d want them to do.’ She talked about finishing all of the time to them.”

It will be Goree’s three assistants who will continue on with the team. “We have three assistant coaches who have all played here,” said Rogers. “Caitlyn Rhodes, Monica Cortez and Carolyn Smith. They’re going to direct the ship.” No one knows how the players will react. “I hope they can gather themselves on Wednesday,” said Rogers. “We told them ‘Don’t do this because you feel you have to.’”

But he understands that they want to play. “I told them ‘I still hear her voice. She was always picking my brain, telling me I’ve got this player situation. What would you do?’” he said. “I told them ‘I hope you still hear her voice.’” Rogers was able to see Goree right after the Hawks’ win over the Chukars. He had stepped into the players lounge. While the players were taking turns praising each other, mentioning what they liked about each other’s play, Rogers stepped forward.

“I asked if I could hand out a game ball,” said Rogers. “(Goree) looked at me and rolled her eyes, and she said I was old school. I said I was, and she said go ahead. I gave the game ball to her for everything she’s done for this program.”

But Rogers mentions another story.

Goree felt at home at CBC.

“She said ‘Rog, I feel this is where I’m supposed to be,’” he said.

It’s not easy being a community college sports program coach. You are always on the lookout to recruit for a school that’s supposed to have these athletes for just a 2-year period.

Then you’ve got to turn them into a strong unit, all looking to advance to the four-year school level.

An NCAA Division I or II athlete usually doesn’t need the extra mentoring. But, depending on the community college, a lot of kids can feel like they are on their own.

At CBC, with Goree, that was never the case.

“She loved what she did,” said Rogers. “She was an exceptional mentor, an exceptional leader, and an incredibly strong person. These girls were her passion.”


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