'A Hard Decision' — Killingsworth leaving Green Forest after 12 years
By Scott Loftis
When Trista Killingsworth reflects on the seven years she spent coaching volleyball and girls track at Green Forest High School, there are a lot of great memories. But two stand out above the others.
Killingsworth, who also served as a high school counselor and had been a part of the Green Forest faculty since 2007, will be leaving for a job as a seventh-grade counselor at Lincoln Junior High School in the Bentonville School District. The Green Forest School Board accepted her resignation at a special meeting Monday night.
Killingsworth, who was an all-state volleyball player and part of a girls cross country dynasty at Berryville High School, said she will be forever grateful for her time at Green Forest.
“I’m so thankful that they took a chance on a wide-eyed 22-year-old back in 2007,” she said. “I have nothing bad to say about Green Forest.”
Asked to recall some of her favorite memories from her time at Green Forest, Killingsworth mentioned a volleyball match in the fall of 2015 and the 2019 Class 3A state track meet that Green Forest hosted just a few weeks ago.
The 2015 Lady Tigers volleyball team was loaded with talent, Killingsworth said, but had a tough time translating that talent into wins.
“We had been struggling for no reason,” she said. “I thought ‘dadgum, why are we struggling so much?’ ”
The struggles continued in the district tournament against Valley Springs, the No. 1 seed. Green Forest, seeded fourth, lost the first two sets 23-25 and 16-25. One more lost set would end the Lady Tigers’ season without a trip to the state tournament.
Even today, Killingsworth isn’t sure how or why, but Green Forest rallied to win the final three sets, 25-14, 25-13, 15-13. The Lady Tigers then turned around and beat Alpena in five sets the next day to win the district championship. The victory over Valley Springs ranks as one of Killingsworth’s favorite moments.
“That moment when it was do or die, to watch the kids step up and play like they did — I’ll never forget that,” she said.
Nor will Killingsworth forget the feeling of watching the Lady Tigers’ 4X800-meter relay team win the state championship at this year’s Class 3A meet. Green Forest came in as the defending champion in the event but was ranked just fourth before the race.
The Lady Tigers were trailing West Fork as Lucy Rios passed the baton to Karina Maravillas for the final leg of the race.
“She just chased that girl down and passed her in the final 300 meters,” Killingsworth said.
Killingsworth said she was on the far side of the track when she heard a roar coming from Green Forest fans watching the race from the stands.
“The bleachers, just the sound of everyone cheering for Green Forest,” she said with a catch in her voice. “Part of it was not just watching our team win. The pride that people take in Green Forest track was just amazing.”
Killingsworth will be stepping away from coaching for the immediate future — although she will volunteer with the Bentonville cross country team. She said the rigors of coaching volleyball and track along with being a full-time counselor took a toll.
“I think anybody that was doing what I was doing at some point is going to get, just tired,” she said.
Still, the decision to leave was a tough one.
“I’ve had a lot of tears,” she said. “It’s been a hard decision.”
Killingsworth credited her husband for being “so supportive” and said it might be time to start a family or perhaps even adopt a child.
“I just think maybe it’s time to put family first,” she said.’
Killingsworth is the second successful coach to leave Green Forest over the past couple of months. Bradley James, who led the Tigers to a state championship in soccer in 2014 and three consecutive state cross country titles from 2014-2016, resigned earlier this spring to move to North Carolina.
“We’ve lost two really good coaches,” said Green Forest athletic director Bobby Bishop, who also serves as the Tigers’ head football coach. “Bradley did an outstanding job for us, and Trista helped start the girls track program and made the postseason several times in volleyball. We’re really going to miss both of them.”