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Turnaround Hopes : Nancy Fortner Aims to Overcome a Losing Habit for the CSDH Women's Volleyball Team--and Her Own Career Disappointments : Coaching: Ex-Olympian Nancy Fortner was never given a full-time position despite leading Dominguez Hills, in an earlier stint, and Loyola to national rankings. Since she left, both programs declined. This time she hopes her efforts will be rewarded, and not just on the court.

October 29, 1989|PAUL McLEOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Volleyball," she said, "had been my entire life."

Ron noticed Nancy's mood swings.

"She would never admit it to me, but I think she missed coaching. In that first year, I think she had second thoughts."

Two seasons later, she found herself questioning her ability.

"I didn't know if I would be able to come back at first, to adjust," she said. "But I did. Coaching gets in your blood."

Working with the elderly taught her a lot.

"I became part of their family, and they became part of mine. They would tell me, 'Don't ever grow old.' I see kids with ability taking so much of it for granted. Up at the home . . . those people know. . . . A lot of them are not healthy.

"There is so much more people can do if they just try a little harder, push themselves a little. Athletics is doing things you've never done before, going beyond the average."

It is a tenet she says she will preach at Dominguez Hills.

The Toro Gym was nearly empty the other night as Dominguez Hills dropped a three-game decision to Cal Poly Pomona, one of five nationally ranked team the Toros must face in the CCAA. It was not an easy loss for Fortner, since Dominguez Hills was even 13-all in the first game before it made two mental mistakes that enabled Pomona to gain the momentum.

She had drilled the team hard for this one, the conference opener. Before the game, she took her players into a corner of the gym, removed her shoes, and, dressed in slacks and blouse, drove spike after spike at them with a closed fist.

As the game progressed, Ron, seated behind the Lady Toro bench, wondered aloud: "This job here may just be Nancy's biggest challenge yet."

Nancy called a timeout as Pomona ran away with the second game. Ron, watching nervously, said: "I think she missed coaching. The challenge is good for her. Nancy is very competitive."

The game ended in Pomona's lopsided favor. Ron, wriggling in his seat, still managed an upbeat tone.

"In some respects," he said, searching for a ray of hope, "this Dominguez Hills thing is the best thing that has ever happened to us"--a statement that his wife had echoed several days before on that brightly lighted morning.

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