The young ladies at Midland Trail High School have proven themselves to be outstanding athletes on the basketball court and the softball diamond.
Now they hope that athleticism translates to success on the volleyball court.
When the 2022-23 school year begins, Midland Trail will field its first volleyball team in school history.
“Softball and basketball are really big here,” head coach Emily Lively said. “I am super excited to get these kids started in volleyball.”
The new feeling will not only belong to the players on the floor, Lively will also be stepping into her first ever role as a head coach.
“I played in elementary school, middle school and some at the high school as well,” Lively said. “They have been wanting to get volleyball started here for a little bit. When they posted the job, I wanted to try it because volleyball has been a big part of my life. We have great kids and if I can bring volleyball to them that will be great.”
Although volleyball will be a new experience for several players on the team, ironically it will likely be the freshman that have the best handle on the basics.
The freshman played on the first-ever middle school team last year under head coach Kristi Atha-Rader.
“They did really good their first year at the middle school. Most of them had never really touched a volleyball and having played for such a little bit, they really came a long ways. I think Kristi does a great job with them,” Lively said. “The rest of the players that we have out are natural athletes and they are so resilient. I think if anyone can do it, it will be them.”
If there was a team that relished the three-week period afforded by the WVSSAC during the summer, it is the Trail volleyball team who has had a solid turnout this summer.
“During the flex days we have tried to hammer in the basics until Aug. 8 when we will have tryouts,” Lively said. “They have picked it up pretty quick, so it will be fun to see where they can take it. We have spent the first two weeks on passing skills and serve-receive.”
“We started a little bit of setting towards the end of last week and it wasn’t until Monday when we started hitting lines for the first time,” Lively continued. “I really want them to get used to receiving serves and be able to pass to a setter versus a coach or assistant coach constantly setting for them. They have all adapted really well though.”
The learning curve for volleyball can difficult and Lively knows patience will be a key. However, the first-year coach feels like her team has the athletes to surprise some people.
“It will definitely take some patient, but like I said, these girls are natural athletes. They have a lot of drive and a lot of grit,” Lively explained. “I think for this first season I want to set up short term and long team goals, so even if we don’t win every game, they are winning in the system. I want them to fight to move up, get into the game and learn new skills.”
Lively admitted being a little nervous, as well as excited for his first head coaching job, but the middle school art teacher also feels like she in the perfect starting spot at Midland Trail.
“I am pretty nervous about it, but I taught a lot of the kids in middle school and they are really great kids. Their parents work really well with you and it is such a community here,” Lively said. “I couldn’t have asked to be put in a better place. Hopefully we can work up to winning several games.”
Midland Trail will compete in Class A Region 3, Section 2 which includes Charleston Catholic, Greater Beckley Christian, Greenbrier West, Pocahontas County, Richwood and Webster County.