After three decades, she bleeds the Southampton red

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 3, 2007

COURTLAND—Over the years, student athletes at Southampton High School have had better experiences because of a coach who is still excited about teaching kids after 28 years.

Diane Seward, the volleyball and girls tennis coach at Southampton, has coached something at the school for the last 28 years. Now in her 35th year as a teacher, all but six in Southampton County, Seward has also coached cheerleading and has helped with football statistics since Littleton Parker’s first year as football coach 21 years ago. She can be seen walking the sidelines at the Indians’ gridiron games, dutifully noting everything from punt return yardage to penalties. Oddly enough, Seward got hooked on football as a child.

“I played little league football,” she said. “When kids are in seventh grade and below, girls are probably just as strong as most of the guys and I was a lot quicker than they were. I played running back and they couldn’t catch me.”

Seward teaches special education and English. She still plays tennis with the high school athletes in the spring. Her favorite thing about coaching is watching the players improve from year to year.

“I enjoy seeing the kids start at the bottom at square one and by the time they get to be juniors and seniors, they know so much more. They are so excited about it,” she said. “You get

your greatest moments when the kids learn something they haven’t been able to get before.”

Seward, a graduate of Southampton High School, Radford University and East Carolina University, said the county does not have a feeder program for volleyball. She has done two things to help grow the talent

before they get to the high school.

“We did a young Junior Olympic team this year with kids from Franklin, Southampton Academy, and Southampton,” she said. “Hopefully the middle school will add volleyball to the intramurals. Me and the JV coach have volunteered to help them get started, because it will benefit us.”

At 56, Seward doesn’t seem to be slowing down soon.

“You kind of get sports in your blood and you can’t

get it out,” she said.