The last time the Clayton girls’ varsity volleyball team won districts was in 1983. In a school that tends to focus more on academics than athletics, the volleyball team is hoping to break out of that stereotype.
The team has undergone multiple major changes this year, including a new coaching staff. Clayton math teacher Kyle McCord is the new varsity head coach. This is his fifth year coaching for Clayton. In the past McCord coached junior varsity, and last year he was the assistant varsity coach.
“My first year, the varsity level was very successful, and the JV level has always been up and down. The varsity level was successful because they had a super talented senior transfer in. It was somebody who all they had to do was get the ball to that person, and the ball would be spiked down. That’s why they were successful. The supporting cast and everything was not. It has not really been super successful at the varsity level since then, well, until this year.” said McCord.
In addition to a new coaching staff, the team has gained several new talented players. Sophomore Sophia Boyd has played 7 seasons of club volleyball and was on the varsity volleyball team at MICDS last year. Although it is only her first year at Clayton, underclassman Boyd was elected to be a co-captain of the varsity team. Her unwavering dedication and enthusiasm on the court have quickly made her one of the strongest leaders on the team.
Sophomore Sophia Boyd slams the ball down during game.
Freshman Sarah Taylor commented, “Obviously, [Boyd’s] an incredible player. And honestly, when she gets a huge kill, it hypes all of us up. So that’s really exciting.”
Another new addition to the team is freshman Sarah Taylor. This year will be Taylor’s seventh year playing volleyball and fifth club season. Despite her young age, Taylor plays all-around, meaning she plays all six positions on varsity; a honor given only to players with diverse skill sets. Apart from physical talent, Taylor believes that this year’s team will be successful because of the bond the players share.
“We’re so close and there’s no drama. We’re more than just teammates.” Taylor said.
“We’re more than just teammates.” ”
— Sarah Taylor
Head Coach McCord also believes the team will be successful this year.
“The obvious reason I can point to is talent.[…] There’s a whole lot of excitement in the program right now, and I think that’s why more people are playing club volleyball. There’s a lot more summer workout stuff going and a lot more girls are dedicated to doing a lot of things outside of season, where that wasn’t always the case. […] There’s a lot more work going in this year.” McCord said.
Senior Izzy Reuter has been on varsity since her freshman year. When asked how the team changed, Reuter responded, “When I started out, freshman year, we were really good with [our coach]. Like we weren’t all that talented but we were pretty bonded. Sophomore and junior year, it was not good because we didn’t have a set coach, […] that was kind of a mess and we had a lot of team drama. But this year is really good. We’re super close, and we don’t have any problems.”
Besides being a well bonded team, McCord believes the team’s record will improve greatly from than last years’. “So, the record last year was 2-15-6. We won three matches. This year, looking at the regular season, I’m predicting 13-6.” McCord said.
McCord is also hoping to revive traditions that have been lost throughout the years. “One of those is Coaches vs. Cancer. So, bringing in more of the community, to get that going in the program, I think is a big goal for me.[…] So, for example senior night is going to be a bigger deal this year. [..] Just a lot more involvement, and I want the program to be the poster child of what Clayton Athletics can be.” McCord said.
This year, Clayton Athletics is focused on Greyhound Pride, Tradition, and Legacy. Many of the varsity players hope to leave lasting impacts on the volleyball team.
“I think since [the team] is so young, they’ll help us in the future. So we can ‘leave our legacy’. They just have so much talent, and they’ll be there for a long time, so they’ll know how to bring in the new people and help them bond,” Reuter said.