Donna Fischer has taken an indefinite leave of absence from her head coaching position of the Pierson/Bridgehampton varsity girls volleyball team for personal reasons, according to athletic director Eric Bramoff.
Bramoff has assumed the role of head coach of the team, he said, until he can find a replacement for Fischer. He was on the sideline with the Whalers at their match at Hampton Bays on Monday, which they lost, 3-0. As of Tuesday morning, Pierson/Bridgehampton is 3-3 in League VI, 3-5 overall.
No other official word was given as to why Fischer has left the team. She has worked at Sag Harbor Elementary School since 2003, where she is currently a teaching assistant for third-grade teacher Julie O’Brien. She will continue in that role.
Fischer entered her 15th year in Pierson’s volleyball program this fall, her ninth as the varsity head coach. She joined the program in 2006 with the backing of then junior varsity head coach Claudia Ortman, who after hearing Fischer had played volleyball collegiately at Elon University, thought she would be a great fit for the program.
With the girls volleyball program having just started in 2004, Ortman said the program had played second fiddle, so to speak, to field hockey, a longstanding and very successful program in Sag Harbor. But as Fischer started the middle school program, she got more and more girls to sign up, Ortman said, and volleyball became a very viable and different option for fall athletes.
“She’s very talented and knows her volleyball, of course being someone who played in college,” Ortman said. “But she also has this natural ability to coach children. I noticed her teaching right away. With the way she coaches and her teaching ability it’s the perfect combination.”
Fischer wound up taking over the varsity program from Stacey Springer in 2012 and five years later led the program to its first ever Long Island Championship and state tournament appearance. Two years later in 2019, they were back at states.
Samantha Cox, who currently plays women’s volleyball at SUNY New Paltz, was a member of both teams.
“The farthest we’d been up until that point in 2017 was league champs, so that was a really cool experience getting to states for the first time. That was a super memorable moment, probably one of the top five experiences ever in my life for me,” she said. “Donna has been such an incredible coach and just a great person in general. She always puts a smile on your face and is really such a great leader and really connects with the kids so well. She really knows the youth of Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton and she’s always putting the extra time in, whether it be on Saturdays or staying late after practice and doing stuff in the summer and doing some team bonding stuff on and of the court.
She’s really a great coach and really made me fall in love with the sport,” Cox continued. “She’s an incredible mentor — she’s really like a second mom to me — and I could never say enough about her. She’s an incredible person who wants the best from everybody.”