“We still have a few spots left”

With the 2022-23 school year a month away, Edwardsville High School athletic director Alex Fox’s summer to-do list grew by one notch last week.

Fox is now looking for a new softball coach following the retirement of Lori Blade. It’s one of two coaching positions at EHS, including girls’ athletics.

“We still have a few openings,” Fox said. “Obviously we’re looking at softball now and how we’re going to move forward with that. We also have a position open as Director of Girls’ Athletics.”

Blade retired as the only head coach in IHSA history with 700 wins in two different sports.

Blade averaged 781-128 in softball over 26 seasons and 743-92 in girls’ basketball over 26 seasons. She ranks fourth all-time in softball and eighth all-time in girls’ basketball in wins in state history. She resigned from coaching girls’ basketball after the 2019–20 season.

“I’m very grateful for what Lori has done for the school and community,” Fox said. “You don’t want to call it a loss, even though it is. She has given us enormous success in more than 20 years of coaching. To end this last season the way we did was outstanding.”

In 18 seasons as Edwardsville softball coach, Blade went 524-98, including 33-4 last season. Blade led the Tigers to 13 Southwestern Conference championships, 15 regional championships and six sections. In three state tournament appearances, EHS finished second in 2009 and third in 2007 and 2022.

In 18 seasons at Edwardsville for girls’ basketball, Blade went 510-65 with 13 SWC championships, 17 regional championships and 13 section championships. The Tigers made six state tournament appearances under Blade, including a fourth-place finish in 2017-18 and second-place finishes in 2011-12 and 2016-17.

According to Fox, Blade was a major influence on both programs.

“Lori came here when I was still coaching in the early days of my career, so I don’t know where the girls’ programs were when she took over, but I do know where they are now and where she took them,” Fox said. “She is instrumental in building the reputation of women’s sports in Edwardsville, particularly basketball and softball.”

While Blade announced her decision last week, Camilla Eberlin resigned from her position as girls’ track and field coach shortly after the season ended. She remains an assistant coach on the girls’ volleyball team.

Eberlin took over the girls athletics program in 2017.

Under Eberlin, Edwardsville qualified for the state meeting with 17 entries, including four that earned medals.

Abby Korak finished eighth in the 1,600m in 2019, while the 3,200m relay team of Riley Knoyle, Kaitlyn Loyet, Maya Lueking and Olivia Coll finished fifth in 2021 and Kaitlyn Morningstar finished seventh in discus in 2021 and sixth in discus in 2022 .

“Since Camilla took over, she has brought a level of stability to the program that has allowed us to thrive,” Fox said. “This year she really brought things together on a larger scale.”

Last season, the Tigers won the Madison County Meet, the Southwestern Conference Meet and the Class 3A Danville Sectional. It was the first time since 2006 that EHS had won all three matches in a single season. The championship was the second in a row and only the third since 2006, while the section championship was the first since 2013.

“Camilla has had a great year this year,” Fox said. “Things really came together.”

Fox believes Eberlin left the program in great shape with tremendous potential for immediate success.

At the Danville Sectional, Edwardsville had six third-place finishes, narrowly missing out on the automatic state spots guaranteed to the top two finishers.

Third-place finishers included junior Emily Nuttall in the 1,600m; Student Emma Patrick in the 3,200 meter run; freshman Blakely Hockett in the 300-meter hurdles; the Knoyle 1,600 meter relay, senior Macie Hockey, Blakely Hockett and senior Jillian Welsh; junior Dallas Jenkins in the shot put; and freshman Zay Hoover in the triple jump. Jenkins also finished fourth in the high jump.

Third-place finishers will all return next season except Macie Hockett and Welsh.

Also in attendance are two-time state medalist and two-time section champion Morningstar in discus and 3,200 meter relay team Nuttall, Knoyle, Coll and Maya Lueking, who won a section championship. Lueking will be a junior and Morningstar will be a senior.

“The program really touches the tip of the iceberg. I feel like this program has tremendous potential for the kids we have here. The sky’s the limit,” Fox said. “We’re going to look for someone who can move it further in that direction.”

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