A new season brings a new coach for the Walker Valley volleyball team. Aubrey Reagan, who played for the Lady Mustangs and is now in her sixth year as a coach, begins her first run as a head coach …
A new season brings a new coach for the Walker Valley volleyball team.
Aubrey Reagan, who played for the Lady Mustangs and is now in her sixth year as a coach, begins her first run as a head coach for the perennial power.
Reagan started at Ocoee Middle School and has been on the coaching end of the sport for nine years. She takes over a program build by former head coach Judy Pruitt, who won more than 500 games and has led the team to berths in sub-state and state tournament volleyball.
“It is a little nerve-racking because I’m following Coach Pruitt,” Reagan said of coming in behind a coach who put together a more than solid program. “This is my sixth year, so I was a part of a lot of those wins the last few years when we have been really successful, both the state and sub-section games we went to. It’s nerve racking, but also confidence-building, because I know I’ve been part of that success in the past. I’m not worried we will be unsuccessful in the future.”
“I know how hard you have to work to get there. I know the sacrifices Coach Pruitt has had to make and I kind of know what to expect from the kids, especially because they have been a part of some of those runs.”
The new Lady Mustangs’ sideline leader has a firm foundation to begin her tenure which could lead to major success with several teams in rebuild mode. She was pleased with the results of the Choo-Choo Camp, considered a quality indicator of how a squad stacks up.
“It’s always hard to say, starting out, how good we are going to be. We do have five seniors and all five of them have some varsity experience. That is going to be important. I think we are all going to be rebuilding and trying to improve. I’d like to say we’re going to be pretty good, but that’s always hard to say,” she stated.
“I think definitely the potential is there. We have some tall kids that we haven’t had in the past. Blocking should be better than it has been in the past. We also have some good passers and a setter returning from last year — Sophie Frederick — who had more than 900 assists. We have key pieces and that is always important, especially at the varsity level.”
Reagan knows the importance of having the right kid in the right spot, and is confident the pieces are there and will fall into place.
The first-year head coach expects all five Walker Valley seniors to play a big role in the success of the team this time around. Macy Nipper, Kaylee Hughs, Anna Grace Jackson, Sophie Fugate and Mikayla Beasley will assume leadership roles for the Lady Mustangs in 2018.
“The kids work hard and are friends with each other. The five seniors we have are great leaders spiritually, emotionally and physically. They are great kids,” remarked Reagan.
Junior defensive specialist Carissa Frost — most recently of the Lady Mustangs’ runner-up softball team — will return to the lineup to give an added boost along with Frederick, who holds the mark for the most assists in a season will also be on the floor as a top-notch setter.
Laney Harris, who also shines on the softball field, will look to make her mark on the volleyball court also as a defensive specialist. “She is a good kid,” said Reagan. “She leads by example, she is not very vocal.”
Reagan said those eight Lady Mustangs will form the core of the unit. “They will be the primary workhorses,” she acknowledged.
The Lady Mustangs can more than surmise that the work will be hard under the new regime, but also know that having fun will make the reward-to-work ratio pay off in a big way.
“In general that’s who I am. The girls knew that coming in. They know I am kind of a 'work hard' kind of person. I am work-hard minded and that is important. I think the girls have kind of bought into that, all the way down from the seniors to freshmen. They understand we want to work hard and want to play hard,” said the coach.
“The varsity’s big thing this summer was all about scrappiness. They want to be scrappy. They want to ... go after the ball. They like to be encouraging. It’s fun for them and makes it better. I would like to think we are going to be exciting. We are going to work hard and encourage each other. We are going to be excited about what we do. Volleyball is a lot more fun if you’re having fun.”
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