Lady Cougar volleyball working with youngsters

By DAVID GRAVELY

sports@southwesttimes.com

 

The Lady Cougar volleyball program is serious about building their program up to the next level. How serious, you ask? Serious enough that they’re taking their game directly to the younger generation in hopes of building up their numbers in the coming years.

 

“During our Junior Olympic travel season we came up with an idea that would add a little kick to the program,” Lady Cougar Head Coach Ted Prol said. “Instead of our normal warmups before a match we decided that the girls would perform a dance. We invited a local dance instructor, Arianne Thompson, to come in and choreograph the dance for the girls. Ms. Thompson blended in several of our regular warmup exercises into the dance routine. The girls loved it!  We decided that starting this high school season, the girls will perform the routine for each of our home matches. The girls performed the dance before the students to illustrate that warmups can be fun and exciting!”

 

That first group of students that had the chance to see the routine was at Dublin Elementary School, where Prol and his players held an intersquad match during the after school program to give students a look at what playing volleyball is like at the varsity level.

 

“We shared our vison with Principal Elizabeth Webb and she thought it was a wonderful idea,” Prol said. “She invited us to come out and play for her students. It was a great opportunity to show some possible future Lady Cougars what they have to look forward to.”

 

On top of holding scrimmages and working on their dance moves, the players have also been working on other ways to build interest in volleyball.

 

“We’ve been in touch with most of the local schools and offered to hold skills clinics during the after school programs,” Prol said. “We were able to hold a few clinics at Riverlawn Elementary and Dublin Middle School already. We have several of our players come and work directly with the younger students on drills and fundamentals. At the end, we set up the net and had the students play a game with our girls. It was a great time, and hopefully we made an impression on some of them.”

 

In addition to helping build possible future interest for his program, Prol also wanted to give his girls another opportunity.

 

“I wanted our girls to have a chance to give back to others,” he said. “I want them to share the love they have for the game and use that to teach these younger students a something. It didn’t take long for the younger students to step up and get involved. I also asked our girls to take time and sit down with each student and talk to them not only about volleyball, but what is important to the young students as well.”

 

Prol says another part of his plan is to change the culture surrounding the program, which has had trouble finding wins over the years.

 

“This is part of our culture change with our team,” he said. “Our new slogan is ‘Rise Up!’ and the girls are really excited. It’s about more than just volleyball. It’s about giving of yourself to others. It could be just a simple smile or just a hello to a stranger. It’s about standing up for those who are not able to stand up for themselves, but because they are weak but because they have lost faith in themselves or others. ‘Rise up!’ is about listening and seeing the world through the eyes of another. It will become who we are not only as a team, but as individuals. It will become the essence of who we are.”

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