Many things have changed at Hermann High School but one remains the same. Every volleyball the same two people have sat next to each other for the past 33 years, Head coach Linda Lampkin and Assistant coach Allen Speckhals.
By Kyle Quick
Hermann, Mo. - In Missouri, the name Linda Lampkin is synonymous with high school volleyball. Throughout her 33 years of coaching at Hermann High School, Lampkin has become an iconic figure within the Hermann community and across the state of Missouri.
On October 1st Lampkin picked up her 800th career win in their first game of pool play of their annual volleyball tournament, becoming the first Missouri high school volleyball coach to ever reach 800 wins.
While players have come and gone since she began her coaching career in 1979, one constant has been her assistant coach Allen Speckhals and together they have formed a dynasty. One that will never be matched during our lifetimes.
Coach Linda Lampkin's illustrious career.
Thus far in 33 years of coaching at Hermann High School and the only school she has coached at, Lampkin has compiled a record of 810-300-39 (as of Oct. 17), making her the winningest coach in Missouri Volleyball history, 22nd among active coaches in the nation, and 34th in all time career wins.
Lampkin has led her teams to 17 Four Rivers Conference titles, 28 District Championships, and 20 final four appearances, never finishing lower than 3rd.
In her 20 final four appearances, Lampkin has won a record 11 state titles (1986, 90, 91, 93, 97, 2000, 01, 02, 06, 08, and 2010), four 2nd place finishes and five 3rd place finishes. No coach has ever won more titles at one school.
Lampkin has more state playoff victories (88) than any Class 2 coach in the state of Missouri, compiling an over all playoff record of 88-18-15.
In our interview with Lampkin she said, "What is most rewarding is seeing players perform the way they are capable of performing... when they start to get something we've been trying to teach them, their confidence grows and continue to become better players."
One thing is for sure, there have been a lot of players "get it", seeing the fact 41 of her players have earned all-state honors 61 times. 47 players went on to play at the college level, one player named to the NCAA Division 1 All-American and four NJCAA All-Americans. Two players have played at the professional level in Switzerland.
Among the countless individual honors Lampkin has received, her most recent was her induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in January of this year.
In 2009, Lampkin was the National Federation National Coach of the year, received the Missouri High School Volleyball Coaches Association (MHSVCA) Peggy Johnson Award, and has been named the National Federation Missouri Coach of the year two times.
Lampkin has also been the MHSVCA Class 2 Coach of The Year 10 times.
The story of how a head coach and their assistant have remained together at the same school for over 33 years is almost impossible to imagine.
"When we started coaching I had no clue how long I wanted to coach and never imagined we'd still be coaching today" Lampkin, said.
The story began when Speckhals and Lampkin attended grade school together, then both graduating from Hermann High School in the same year only to return to teach and coach at their alma mater after both graduated with degrees in physical education.
From the very beginning their goal was to eventually win a state championship and in 1986 Lampkin and Speckhals led their team to the schools first ever Volleyball State Title.
"I remember after winning that first state title while waiting to receive our medals and trophy I asked Allen if one time was enough and all he said was nah."
Allen Speckhals said, "I've always kidded with her...I grew up three brothers and never had a sister and she the closest I've eve came to having a sister. She's quite the person and it was one of those things where we got a good thing rolling and never had a desire to ever leave Hermann."
Lampkin has felt the same way. Having received offers from other high schools throughout her career she said, "Not once have I ever thought of leaving here, not even for a split second."
Lampkin's coaching style during games might be different compared to others coach today. You will rarely see Lampkin express a lot of emotion during a game and the only time she stands from her seat is to call a timeout.
As Speckhals explained, "In our younger days we were more fired up than now I will admit, 95% of her coaching is done before the game begins. She is very organized and gets players well prepared during practices. During games she has a way to motivate them with a little fear or simply say 'all I want to see is what I see in practice."
Over three decades of coaching together, narrowing down one moment that sticks out the most is not always easy. But there is one particular game Lampkin and Speckhals both vividly remember.
In 2002, after having won back to back state titles in 2000 and 2001, Speckhals recalls the district championship match, which was at Hermann against Lutheran St. Charles.
Note: 2002 was the last year when teams played to 15 and could only score when your team had the serve.
"Of all the great teams we've had, the 2002 team is still probably our best team ever" Speckhals, said. "We were loosing 14-11 in the third set and they had the serve, which meant one mistake and it was over. I remember sitting on the bench thinking to myself how are we going to get these girls out of the locker room. Everyone expected us to win, we had won 30 some games straight. We would've probably needed a shrink."
Fortunately, Hermann went onto win 17-15 and their third straight state title.
"Had we lost that game I'm not sure what we would have done. I was thinking the same thing about how we would get the girls out of the locker room too. Even to this day we still will talk about that game" Lampkin added.
When will the Lampkin/Speckhals Dynasty end?
Lampkin and Speckhals both retired from teaching, Lampkin in 2007 and Speckhals in 2008, but were not ready to give up coaching. Will this be their last year? Neither would say except they both did say, "When it stops being fun is when we'll stop doing it."
It's rare enough for any teacher/coach to spend their entire careers at one school, especially for 30 years and never has their been a story of two coaches spending 33 plus years coaching together and their accomplishments in those years.
The Lampkin/Speckhals Dynasty will still be talked about 100 years from now.