When Christabell Hamilton officially took the reins of Xavier of Louisiana’s women’s volleyball program Tuesday, it was just another profound change for the former Tulane assistant coach.
Replacing Al’lisa Hale, who resigned after one year of helming the Gold Nuggets, Hamilton had to resign her spot as a player for her native American Samoa national volleyball team which was set to compete in the Pacific Games in New Caledonia in August. But, Hamilton wasn’t sad about it.
“Samoans are known as happy people,” she said. “We are very family-oriented, always put God first and respect others.”
Truth be told, the XULA position is just another part of Hamilton’s continuing journey that might just take her around the world. Certainly, she seems to be moving further and further east.
After starring at and becoming valedictorian for Tafuna High School in Pago Pago, Hamilton went on to set several school records in kills for a season and a career for the Zias of Eastern New Mexico University in Portales. She took her volleyball talents further east to Stephenville, Texas to be an assistant at Division II Tarleton State.
She finally landed in New Orleans two years ago when her husband, Ronnie, took over as an assistant men’s basketball coach for the Green Wave of Tulane. After stints at a local middle school, high school and club program, Hamilton finally landed the job with Xavier.
“We are confident that Christabell will do an outstanding job,” said Xavier Athletics Director Dennis Cousin. “She impressed our search committee with her knowledge, her enthusiasm, her confidence and her personality. She’s a great fit for Xavier.”
If Xavier is to improve upon its 11-26 mark last season, its first since Hurrican Katrina halted the program in 2005, it can certainly benefit from Hamilton. As assistant coach with Tarleton State, she helped take the TexAnns to their first winning season, in 2008. She also helped guide the team to the semifinals in the Lone Star Conference tournament twice in three seasons.
In 2010, as an assistant coach at Louise S. McGehee School, she proved instrumental in leading the school to the semifinals of the Louisiana Division IV state playoffs.
And Hamilton, niece of two-time Pro Bowl San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Jesse Sapolu, does have some glowing accolades from former coaches and colleagues to back her up.
“You couldn’t have gotten a better coach,” said Eastern New Mexico volleyball head coach Mike Maguire. “Christabell is an extremely fine young lady. She did a great job when she coached at Tarleton State. I know she’ll do a great job at Xavier. You guys are extremely lucky to get her.”
Mary Schindler, head coach at Tarleton State, added: “She wants to win and she’s driven to win, but she wants to do it the right way. She wants her kids to graduate and do the right things.”
And Xavier of Louisiana is hoping Hamilton will put down some permanent roots in New Orleans and guide the Gold Nuggets back to its winning ways on the court.