MOORHEAD — Char Lien has been involved with volleyball every fall as either a player or a coach since seventh grade.

Lien, the head coach of the Moorhead Spuds volleyball team for 23 years and on the coaching staff for 39 years, is retiring, the Spuds athletics Twitter account announced on Tuesday, Nov. 23.

Lien said it had been on her mind for a couple seasons and she was waiting for the right time to make her decision. She retired from teaching last spring.

"I think the last couple years I always kept thinking about, 'When is it going to be the right time?' " Lien said. "I figured it was going to hit me one way or the other, and I decided to not make that emotional decision during the season. This year, I don't know if it was coming off the COVID year or what, this year was just different. The time commitment needed to be a successful program was wearing on me. This was a natural segue to move onto the next chapter."

What's next? Spending time with her three young grandkids, Lien said. She also plans to help with a remodel at the lake and wants to find some warmer travel destinations down south. It will be an adjustment, but Lien is looking forward to having flexibility in her day.

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Moorhead High volleyball coach Char Lien goes over her lineup sheet before play against Big Lake during the Moorhead Invitational on Friday, Oct. 18, at Moorhead High School. David Samson / The Forum
Moorhead High volleyball coach Char Lien goes over her lineup sheet before play against Big Lake during the Moorhead Invitational on Friday, Oct. 18, at Moorhead High School. David Samson / The Forum

Lien took over as Spuds head volleyball coach in the fall of 1999. Her first year with the program as an assistant coach was 1983. Lien was away from the program for one season — 1988 — which she spent as an assistant coach with North Dakota State. Lien helped guide the Bison to a 43-3 overall record for their highest-ever winning percentage (.935) and a third-place finish at the NCAA Division II national tournament.

With Lien at the helm, the Spuds made the Minnesota state tournament 10 times, most recently in 2019. She said working with the kids is what will be missed the most.

"I just feel very fortunate to have the longevity that I had and the opportunity from the district to work with these kids," Lien said. "It's rare to be in one spot for so long. There are lots of ups and downs, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

"There's been so many (memories). ... I think that's been the best part, all the kids I worked with, and there's been so many kids that have left the program and have come back and poke their head in before the game to just say 'Hi.' To find out what they're doing and where they landed, to have a small piece in that, that's the greatest accolade I can think of."