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Chris Laird tabbed as new Southwest Volleyball Head Coach

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The revitalization of the Southwest Mississippi Community College Volleyball program took a major step forward recently with the hiring of Chris Laird as the team’s new head coach.

Laird brings nearly 30 years of coaching experience both as an assistant and head coach on multiple levels.

“It’s a new experience,” Laird said. “I’ve been a coach at a JUCO, I’ve been a coach at a high school level and I have spent the majority of my career in the higher education system. I’ve been a Division-I head coach, D-II assistant, D-I assistant, so I’ve been a little all over the map. It’s exciting to bring it to this part of the state. It’ll be challenging but I feel like we have a lot to offer and it is getting more popular every day.”

As far as being a head coach, Laird spent a number of years in the Southland Conference in Louisiana before making a move to Florida.

“I was at Nicholls State for five years as a head coach which is Division I then I went to Pensacola State as the head coach for eight seasons,” he said.

In addition, Laird has also logged time at Baker High School in Alabama and at nearby Petal High School.

Laird joins the Bears staff after serving as an assistant coach for one year at Jones College.

One aspect that stood out to Laird during the hiring process was a constant saying that he heard multiple times. “The biggest thing that I can remember and I heard from multiple people is that ‘you are going to love working here,’” he said. “And I’ve been to a lot of schools, universities and colleges and no one has said it more than I’ve heard here at Southwest which is something that stood with me.”

Being from Tylertown, Laird is no stranger to Pike County saying that he spent plenty of time in McComb in his youth. He looks at this not only as coming home to Southwest Mississippi, but also that his career has come full-circle.

“There are people that work here, that I’ve known for a long time,” he said. “We started out learning volleyball on the tennis court in Tylertown. I (also) volunteered with the women’s team at Southern Miss.”

For Laird, being the first head coach for Southwest volleyball in decades comes with challenges. Before his Lady Bears take the court in 2025 he is tasked with an immense amount of recruiting while competing against eight other JUCO volleyball programs in the state and Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference.

When asked to define a Chris Laird volleyball team, other than winning, he said he wants it to be one the fans enjoy watching.

“Hopefully, one that is fun to watch,” he said. “We want to put on a show and we like to think that we are going to play up tempo and tenacious defense. Other than that we want to represent ourselves and the community well.”

Southwest Athletic Director Ken Jackson said that the school and the athletic program as a whole is fortunate to have a coach with the amount of experience Laird is bringing to the table.

“We are extremely excited to begin the Volleyball era at Southwest and we are thrilled to have a coach such as Chris Laird to start the volleyball program,” he said. “How often are you able to get someone from the local area with the extensive experience he brings to the program. He brings the excitement and desire to grow the sport of volleyball to Southwest Mississippi.”

Southwest President Dr. Steve Bishop is equally excited adding that in addition to his experience as a team leader, he is also very knowledgeable when it comes to recruiting.

“He brings a broad recruiting base, if you will, as far as contacts within the sport of volleyball, within Mississippi and especially all over the Southeast,” he said. “He has impressive experience in the high school level, community college level and university level. He is also not only well-known as a coach but also as an official.”

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