Going through transition is tough sometimes, but that is what North Nodaway has this year as it restarts its high school volleyball program.
With numbers dwindling in the school’s traditional fall girls sport of softball, the Mustangs made the decision to switch from being a softball school to being a volleyball school. The rationale was simple: Softball requires nine players while volleyball requires six.
The difficulty for both Mustang programs this season is that with both sports being offered this year, the numbers crunch is felt by both the softball and volleyball programs with each only having 10 and 11 athletes each this year.
Volleyball has 10 athletes out for the team and the challenge for first-year coach Lindsi Jackson and assistant coach Ashley Proffitt is simply teaching the fundamentals to a group that has largely never played organized volleyball before.
“Most of them are pretty open-minded, they want to get better and they want to learn new things,” Jackson said. “A lot of them don’t have experience and are starting from the bottom, but we are seeing improvement day by day and that is promising.”
The team got a jump-start on the basics with a three-day camp this summer.
Three members of the Mustangs did get experience playing with the West Nodaway Rockets in recent years when volleyball wasn’t an option at North Nodaway.
The most experienced player on the Mustangs is senior Olivia Miller who started for the Rockets last year.
“I am really glad that I finally get to play with my school and it is just really cool,” Miller said. “I’m really excited that a lot of people came out. A big thing for our school is softball during this time of year. I was afraid not a lot of people would show up, but they did.”
She is excited to take a larger leadership role with this new group of girls, knowing the lack of experience around her.
“I’ve definitely learned a lot from West Nodaway so it was good that I got to play with someone so that I know how to be a leader,” Miller said.
Senior Cheyenne Murphy and junior Layna Murphy also played with the Rockets last year and will be among the players that Jackson counts on to lead the way this season.
“It has been a lot of fun,” Cheyenne Murphy said. “All the girls are putting in a lot of effort and it has been working good.”
Jackson is keeping the expectations simple this season.
“Improve,” Jackson said.
The key to that improvement is more about mindset than anything else.
“From the girls, we just need them to come in and give us everything we have and take our criticism and coaching,” Jackson said.
The Mustangs will have their home opener that Thursday, Aug. 30, when Nodaway-Holt visits Hopkins.
“Even though it is our first year and the rumor is nobody has a lot of high expectations for us,” Miller said. “I want to prove them wrong.”