The Muskingum University volleyball team has been without its head coach after Elizabeth Zicha was placed on an unpaid administrative leave. The exact day she was put on leave has not been released in the report.
Zicha, 57 of New Concord, has been charged with one count of first-degree misdemeanor assault following accusations from a player.
According to a Muskingum University Police report, the volleyball team was reviewing film during a sit down coaching session on Oct. 8 when several players took their shoes off, one of which commented on being able to smell her own feet. That’s when Zicha allegedly threw a water bottle, striking the girl on the left side of her face.
According to the police report, the victim says this isn’t the first incident she’s had with the coach. Muskingum University President, Anne Steele, and Athletic Director, Larry Shank, have been made aware of the situation. Meetings with players and Zicha have been held.
According to the report, Zicha reportedly said in a meeting with Shank and his staff that “her anger was out of control and she needed to be stopped, even if that meant being suspended or fired.”
According to the police report, the victim’s mother notified University Police on Oct. 12 that her daughter had been harassed by the two Assistant Volleyball Coaches, Sharon Adams and Elizabeth Bickford, following practice. The next day, Adams resigned from her position.
The report does not indicate the status of Bickford. Zicha was summoned to the New Concord Mayor’s Court on Oct. 13, where she was officially charged. Her next appearance is scheduled for Nov. 9 at 5:30 p.m. The incident is still under investigation.
Currently, Muskingum Head Softball Coach, Kari Winters, is serving as Interim Head Volleyball Coach for the remainder of the 2015 season.
The Muskies are currently in the middle of an OAC Tournament run, standing in fourth place in the conference as of Nov. 2.
Winters started her time at the helm of the volleyball team with a 2-2 record in her first four games, falling to Kenyon and OAC foe Ohio Northern on the road, and keeping the Muskies’ undefeated record at home intact with two wins over conference opponents Mount Union and Otterbein.
Winters wasn’t sure what to expect going into the situation, but has now settled into the role of coaching volleyball.
“I’m actually enjoying it a lot more than I thought that I would,” said Winters. “I was a little bit nervous at the beginning, but the ladies have a really nice job of coaching each other and helping me to help them.”
Winters believes she was chosen for the position mostly based on her previous experience in volleyball, and that she is the only coach currently on the athletic staff that has enough knowledge of the game to step into the void.
As a high school athlete, Winters played four years of high school volleyball until she graduated in 2004. Since then, her volleyball play has been limited.
“I’ve been a long-time [Muskie] volleyball supporter,” said Winters. “I’ve gone to a lot of the home games, and it’s always just been a side passion of mine, and I really enjoy the sport.”
One challenge Winters and the team will face is keeping on track in the midst of their journey to get to the OAC Tournament at the end of the regular season.
“I think that they really understand how they control their own destiny,” said Winters. “I think what they’re doing right now is they’re taking it one day at a time, and they’re growing.”
Winters has also seen that the players are a little surprised with how much effort she is putting into the team, and believes that their new relationship is helping with the transition.
“I’ve been breaking down a lot of film and reading blocks so I can tell our hitters where to put the ball,” said Winters. “I think the volleyball players are a little surprised on how much film I’ve been watching, and for them I think it’s created a little bit of comfort.”
The Muskies finished out their regular season on Oct. 31 with a home match win against OAC rival John Carroll, which they won in straight sets, including a thrilling comeback to win the decisive set 29-27.
WMCO has the call with pregame starting at 6:30 and game time set for 7. You can also follow along during the game by following our sports Twitter @orbit907sports.