After a lifetime of being involved with high school sports, it is easier to spot elite coaches.

After a lifetime of being involved with high school sports, it is easier to spot elite coaches.

These are the individuals who come into a school and develop a program that works for young people. It matters not what sport we are dealing with, it is the consistency of a system that breeds success.

And at Canal Winchester High School, Colleen Ross has built a girls volleyball program that can be a model for any coach anywhere.

In 27 seasons, Ross consistently has produced outstanding teams, and this year's model is another one of them. After the first nine matches of the season, the Indians had one loss and that was to Big Walnut, another central Ohio power.

Ross exemplifies the description of an elite coach.

"Coaching is such a joy," Ross said. "It gives you a different avenue to go down that you might not get during your normal workday. You are provided with the chance to take a select group of kids who are at different levels of development and attempt to make them achieve their potential. You will experience situations that you never dreamed of, and you are constantly making decisions about what is important to those select students.

"Coaching allows you to impart what you know and who you are and, if you are good at it, coaching can result in relationships that might last the rest of your life."

Ross said her enthusiasm about coaching is as strong as ever.

"I absolutely love walking into a gymnasium. It doesn't matter if it's our own gym or at another school. I love the atmosphere. I graduated from Johnstown High School in 1976 which was just on the cusp of Title IX so, as a girl, I never had the opportunities these athletes have. I was always a competitive and determined athlete so I guess it isn't a surprise that I went right into coaching out of college."

Ross added that coaching gave her an outlet that she was denied while in high school.

"I guess I have been fortunate to be in the position I am in. It is always good to work with kids and hear their stories and understand that all those stories matter. There is a side of me that is creative and that helps me in coaching because your challenge is to take your group of players and make the pieces fit and make things work.

"That is the magic of being in this profession and even though I can't remember every game of every year, I do remember incidents and fun things and, of course, my players and now I am coaching kids of the kids I had years ago."

Ross said her current team has been a pleasure to work with. The Indians are an inexperienced team, but the players are blending together.

"Everyone works hard on our team. They are unselfish and have no sense of entitlement, and they play very hard as a group. I only have three players with varsity experience, seniors Chelsey Miller and Allison Hutchins and junior Morgan White, but I am blessed to have a number of players who have stayed around the program without playing very much and are now getting their chance.

"We have two outstanding sophomores in Kyleigh Palmer and Rachel Dosch, who are creating positive things for our team. It is a good mix because the seniors want to help the sophomores grow, and the sophomores want to help make this a great year for the seniors. There are different dynamics with every year and every team and on this team every player knows their role. There are followers and leaders and there have been no dramatics to deal with."

Another year, another good season for Canal Winchester. It's almost become routine. However, there is no complacency with Ross.

"To be honest, I really don't know anything but Canal Winchester. I have had the opportunity to leave, but I have chosen to stay here. We have great young people here. Maybe I haven't had the 6-foot tall players or the world-class volleyball athletes, but I have had students who have a sense of what sports means to their community, and I would never want any more than that. I guess Canal Winchester is where I will always be."

That is lucky for Indians fans, very lucky.

I'll see you at a match.

Larry Larson is a former athletics director at Grandview High School. He can be heard as "Mr. High School Sports" on WTVN 610 AM.