Two Loudon County high school volleyball teams united for two days last week at Philadelphia Elementary School for a skills camp put on by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coaching staff.
The camp has been an annual tradition for the Loudon High School Lady Redskins, but this year LHS head coach Jody Bunch decided to include the newly formed Greenback School Lady Cherokees volleyball team.
“I was skeptical at first because I wasn’t sure how my girls would react with college level coaches, but it actually turned out really well,” Beth Disney, Greenback head volleyball coach, said. “They followed directions really well. We had practice Monday and they were able to implement everything that they had learned from camp, they remembered everything and I just saw an overall better practice Monday from my girls, and I feel it’s definitely because of the two-day camp last week with the college-level coach instructing.”
Travis Filar, UTC head volleyball coach, directed the camp and instructed the Lady Cherokees on fundamentals.
“I was with Greenback the entire time and my assistant coach was with Loudon because they know a little bit more of what we expect and just the overall game,” Filar said. “With Greenback, they’re building from the ground up and that’s what their coaches are doing as far as the program goes. I wanted to come in with that same mentality of, ‘If we can’t serve it over the net or pass it to our setter, it’s going to be a long season.’ We just focused a lot on the fundamentals, skill development. I told them that this ball, this game can be amazing if you can control it.”
The Lady Cherokees were able to install new rotations, schemes and drills from the camp, which Disney believes will pay dividends this fall.
“I had implemented a rotation for our team and it wasn’t bad per se, but he had a suggestion for rotation in serve-receive and offense that just worked better,” Disney said. “We practiced it on Monday and overall, practice was a little better. We played 6-on-6, and we learned a lot of individual skills, too. It’s things you can do on your own and that you don’t have to be at practice because you can do it from home, but it’s also just skills to see, ‘This is how you start an individual skill and by the end of the season, you should start to see better ball control.’ We should see the direct effects of that when we’re on the court when we’re playing.”
Filar encouraged the team to not focus on wins and losses this season but rather on getting better each day in practice in order for the program take shape.
“It excites me as a college coach in the state of Tennessee to see a new volleyball program and giving opportunities for young girls to grow in a game that’s been a big part of my life,” he said. “I really just told them, ‘You guys get to write the first chapter of this journey.’ That’s a pretty big responsibility, and it’s not about the record, it’s not about the wins and losses to start out but it’s more about you go about every day, how you start out in practice, how you’ve got to make sure you’re doing what you can do to get there. Ultimately, it’s not going to be pretty at times but if they’re coming in here with the attitude of getting better and trying to improve that, then I think good things are going to happen for the future of the program.”
The Lady Cherokees will compete in a preseason jamboree July 31 at Sequoyah High School.