Kelly Hunter

Kelly Hunter, interim assistant coach and head coach of the beach volleyball team, poses for a portrait inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Throughout his 20 years as the head coach of Husker volleyball, John Cook has been an iconic coach in both the world of college volleyball and Nebraska. Of course, what makes Cook an iconic coach is not only the success of his Husker teams, but also what he’s inspired his players to become. 

For example, former NU setter Kelly Hunter, who finished her college career in 2017, will be rejoining the Husker volleyball team as an interim assistant coach. 

"I think setters make great coaches," Cook said in a press conference. "She's as natural a coach for that age as I've been around, and she earned instant trust with her team. She's a great communicator, and she has a great eye for the game. Plus, I've been telling her for five years she should be a coach."

Hunter joined the staff to fill in until new assistant head coach Tyler Hildebrand joins the team on Aug. 10 after he coaches in the Olympics. After that, she will stay as a volunteer assistant. Hunter will work as interim assistant coach in beach volleyball and will also take a leading role in recruiting and summer camps. 

“Coach [Cook] keeps telling me I don't know what I'm in for, and I'm starting to believe him," Hunter said. "So we'll see. I think I'll adjust quickly and be able to figure it out on the fly. As a player we always coached Husker camps in the summer, and I’ve always really enjoyed it.”

Hunter graduated in 2017 with a degree in marketing. She then went and played one season of professional volleyball in Turkey. However, Cook seemed to always have something else in mind for her. 

"Coach asked me probably once a week, 'What's your five-year plan?'" Hunter said. "I always told him, 'You know what? I'm just going with the flow.' I was waiting to see what opened up and talked to a couple of other colleges about jobs."

Hunter returned to Nebraska and served as a graduate manager for the team this past season. She also returned to finish her master’s degree in business. 

Hunter will work with and learn from other assistants during the beach volleyball season. As a volunteer coach next season, Hunter is also eager to learn from Hildebrand, who coached Hunter during Nebraska's national championship season in 2017.

“It's a really unique situation,” Hunter said, “I think we have one of the best coaching staffs in the country, if not the best. It’ll be cool to get to learn from every single one of them. Just getting an experience here at a great program under a really great staff, it’s a really good segue for me.”