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La Monte athletics mourns loss of volleyball coach


The La Monte volleyball team has lost their beloved first-year head coach.

Michael Finley died Tuesday, March 19, at the age of 64.

According to his obituary, Finley was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and graduated from La Monte High School in 1978. Finley then went on to graduate from Central Missouri State University with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science in 1982.

Finley started his career as a computer maintenance engineer with Sperry Univac, including a stint working on the computer system at Fort Leavenworth and at the Kennedy Space Center. He worked in the same capacity for CMC in Little Rock, Arkansas, and then at SITA in Atlanta.

In March 2023, Finley retired to live on a family farm in La Monte.

In his retirement, Finley joined the La Monte volleyball team as its head coach.

Finley’s death came as a shock to members of the team.

“My heart sank,” junior Peyton Martin said. “It was definitely like out of the blue. We did not expect that to happen. He was supposed to come back next year.”

The main reason why Finley’s death was surprising to the team is because Finley was always so energetic while coaching the team.

“He’d come out there and show us how to do it,” Martin said. “There would be times he would play with us when we went against each other. He was always jumping up and down on the sidelines at games, too.”

According to his obituary, Finley enjoyed playing volleyball in his free time. Finley also loved cheering on the Chiefs and Royals, and was always up for a game of cornhole.

Finley’s love for volleyball and sports was easily seen by his players.

“He knew what he was talking about,” freshman Morgan Hall said. “If you had a question, he probably knew the answer."

“Even if we weren’t in volleyball season, he was always at the games and he always made sure to tell us, ‘Good game,’” Hall continued. “It didn’t matter if it was a bad game. He believed in us more than we believed in ourselves.”

Finley was always a positive person and never made the volleyball team get down on themselves.

“He never like punished us. It was never like, ‘Go run,” sophomore Addison Whitworth said. “He taught us what we needed to work on and we moved on.”

Martin said Finley’s positivity came from his belief in the team.

“It was definitely good to have a coach that believed in us,” she said. “I think it brought back the joy and like being out on the court and not going out there being like, ‘Oh, we're just, we're just another team, we're just going to lose to them.’”

Athletic director Scott Floyd also shared similar thoughts.

“He was very invested in trying to get the athletic program into a better place and we knew right away when he got the job,” Floyd said. “He was all about not only making the volleyball program better, but making the kids better. So, he was all in and it was refreshing to see that enthusiasm…We needed someone like that in our sports community and our school community. Somebody that was positive and always looking forward.”

Floyd, who is also the boys basketball coach, said some of his favorite times with Finley were during their post-game chats.

“We’d always get together, whether it was volleyball or basketball, we’d get together and hash things out,” Floyd said. “We’d talk about what we did, what we did well, what we could do better. But at the end, it was all positive. They always ended in a positive way.”

Finley is survived by his wife, Julie; three children, Sandra Finley, Christopher Finley and Laura Anderson; six grandchildren; sister, Jan DeClue; and many brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews.