This summer while many of us were still packing picnics for the beach, the girls of Allendale High School’s volleyball team were setting and spiking in the early morning hours, sending balls flying and shouts echoing through an otherwise empty gym.
Their hard work and diligence has already paid off: this August they won 2nd place in the Godwin Heights Volleyball Tournament! While this and their other two tournaments were non-conference match-ups, the preparation has set them on track for a great season. Mrs. Audra Murphy, head coach of the team, says that this group of girls is constantly working on something — whether it’s concentrating efforts on functioning as a team or on a specific skill, she sees the spark that comes from wanting to reach personal bests and achieve as a team.
“Everyday I’m in the gym I love seeing girls being successful by working hard. I love seeing them take joy in giving their best effort; take joy in hard work; take joy in being part of a team. I know what that felt like as a player, and now as a coach, I love helping to provide that opportunity for other young women.”
To promote an environment of growth and positivity, Mrs. Murphy has her players work on daily goals together. Each young woman uses large group stretch or warm-up time to share a personal goal with the group for accountability. Those goals might sound something like “not missing any serves” or “to get more kills than errors.”
But what the team enjoys more than the accountability with one another, perhaps, is the accountability, the trust, and the camaraderie they share with Mrs. Murphy. Each week or so during drills, Mrs. Murphy calls girls out one by one for a brief, private conference where she offers feedback on one individual skill and thoughts on how that student is contributing to being a team player. She reports that her players often site this conference time as being integral—and special—because they know they can ask questions and hear an honest answer — without an audience.
” I try to run a volleyball program that focuses on the positive strides I see rather than constantly correcting errors. I tell the girls that focusing on the little things each day can make a big difference in the long run.”
Now in her 4th season of coaching some of these girls, Mrs. Murphy says that the six seniors on the team certainly hold a special place in her heart. Of those six, three were voted as team captains by their teammates: Emily Patten, Paige Wells, and Kristin Doornbos.
“The fact that we have three captions says a lot, too,” Mrs. Murphy noted. “Typically we only select two captains, but this year there was a tie, so we kept all three in that role. These young women are natural leaders who have the drive to out-do themselves — to perform at their personal best. They want to be better. They’re not just there to socialize, they take the competition very seriously. “
Mrs. Murphy said that one of the great things about being a coach is that you have the unique opportunity to work with kids who want to be there and who want to play the sport. We hope that the Allendale community will share that desire and come out to support them this week for their league-opener against Wyoming!
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 at AHS
Varsity: 6 pm
JV: 5 pm