Volleyball head coach Lou Lynn Stirling held a camp for girls entering sixth through eighth grades at the Hutson Center June 4-6. This camp is to prepare future Lady Rebel volleyball members. Also, current junior and senior high teams are practicing now to get ready for the first match, to be held on the second day of school.
"My realistic goals for this camp is to find the interest for the younger girls" explained Stirling. "I want to develop the interest in the younger girls. So they know what it's all about. So they'll want to come to the games and watch, and then want to play. So that I can keep that interest going."
"And that was my intention when I wanted volleyball in here -- to give those girls that don't get to do anything a chance to do something" she said. "You might be an awful basketball player, but you might really excel at volleyball. Because it's two totally different talents that you need."
Getting the players up to speed on this new-to-Highland game is not the only challenge for Stirling -- she also has learning curve for herself. She played intramurals in college and enjoys a match or two on weekends with friends, but has not been a part of organized volleyball. She has not been shy to ask for help. Richard Huff volunteered his time to help the girls at the first ever practices held last August. A ball cart sponsored by Huff's Hardy Insurance was noticeable at this summer's camp. She has also gone outside of the area, as well.
"What I've done is brought (Amanda Vick) in from Jonesboro, who used to play at Westside and she has helped me throughout the winter. She has been amazing. I don't know what I would have done without her. She has taken us from fundamentals, to everything you have to do in a match."
Stirling has also found information on the web, especially YouTube, which has many instructional videos.
As with any sport there is more than what you see happening on the court. There is more to volleyball than getting three chances to get the ball back over the net.
"I'm going to be honest. When it comes to my first match, I'm probably going to be more nervous than the girls," admitted the new coach. "But strategies and things like that is one thing Vick has been helping me with. There are offenses in volleyball just like there are in basketball. There are defensive strategies. There are so many little bitty, particular rules that you never would have thought about. My first year will be a huge learning year."
Some of the help, and encouragement, the Lady Rebel coach has received has come from her opponents.
"All of our conference coaches have been helpful. Anytime I've needed something, get referees or anything, I call on them and they've been real helpful," she said.
"The first time I talked to all of the coaches, we had a meeting where we scheduled all of our games. Everybody told me, 'we've all been there, we understand, it's ok. But let me tell you something, Highland has good athletes and you're going to be ok.'"
On a personal note, even the sportswriter will have to review rules and figure out just what goes into writing a competent volleyball story.
Player, coaches, and sportswriters will get to prove themselves in just a few short weeks.
"The first game is the second day of school. We've already been in the gym. We've got scheduled practices starting (this) week," said Stirling. "We have the two dead weeks at the end of June, but July 1 we hit it really hard."