By KEVIN HARRIS
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
There are three new volleyball coaches in the Clark-Floyd area this season, and each of them have their own unique mission to try to accomplish.
For Jeffersonville coach Renee Stock, she is making her second attempt to try to revitalize the Red Devils’ volleyball program, which has gone through a long streak of losing seasons. She coached Jeff from 2001-04.
For Charlestown coach Tammy Nuxoll, she is trying to turn around the Pirates’ volleyball team that has had its share of losing campaigns as well.
For Borden coach Gary Timberlake, he takes over a program that has accomplished a lot the past few years and is trying to keep that success rate at a high level.
STOCK TO TRY TO CARRY ON COX’S WORK AT JEFF
Stock, formerly Renee Kearney, has first-hand knowledge on some of the things her predecessor, Tim Cox, was doing to try to improve the performance of Red Devil volleyball.
Stock was a volleyball coach at River Valley Middle School during Cox’s three-year tenure as the Red Devils’ boss. While Cox was at Jeff, Stock worked closely with him to get younger players more interested in volleyball and to improve their skill levels.
“Coach Cox was working hard to get the players on club teams, and I will continue that as well. I will offer volleyball to elementary kids in our community through clinics and possibly YMCA programs,” Stock said.
Stock said getting Jeff players involved in club volleyball, especially at an early age, is essential in making the Red Devils a competitive volleyball program year-in and year-out. She has noticed that more middle school and high school players within the Jeff program are playing club ball than in the past.
“[In the past] no one would invest in the program because it was unsuccessful, and it was unsuccessful because no one would invest. Club ball is a huge investment for families, and people did not want to pay that much money to put their athletes on a losing team,” Stock said. “That is hard to fix, but now there are more girls involved in club at Jeff High and even a few at River Valley and Parkview [Middle School].”
Stock was hired as volleyball coach on Aug. 6, one day after the first official day of practice. But even though Stock was behind in instructing the Red Devils, she says the transition in her return to Jeff has been fairly smooth because she knows most of the current players from River Valley. Plus she credits her coaching staff for helping her get re-acclimated to coaching at the high school level.
“I am adjusting to the workload and everything is falling into place,” Stock said. “I came into the program knowing a lot of the girls because I have coached or taught half of them at River Valley Middle School. That made the transition a little easier. I have surrounded myself with a wonderful coaching staff — Greg Prescott, Nicole Briscoe and Kim Roudenbush — and they will also help ease the girls into our way of doing things.”
Stock says her players are working to become a more competitive team. To get to that level, the Red Devils are using one word to earn that status — push.
“Our team goal is to push ourselves physically and mentally to become a competitive force. The team is concentrating on playing with a ‘Purpose, Unity, Strength, and with Heart.’ Those are the words the girls came up with as a team for our ‘PUSH’ motto,” Stock said. “Most of the kids have very similar objectives. They want to work on their fundamentals and also become a bigger threat to other teams on the court.”
NUXOLL HOPES HER PAST SUCCESS WILL RUB OFF ON PIRATES
The sport of volleyball has been good to Nuxoll.
The Jeff graduate was an All-State player for the Red Devils. Her inspired play in high school helped earn her a spot on a NCAA Division I roster at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
At UAB, Nuxoll became the all-time leader in assists and attack percentage as she helped the Blazers win three Sun Belt Conference championships. She was named to the Academic All-Conference team in each of her four years at UAB. In addition, Nuxoll won Sun Belt Tournament most valuable player honors.
During her time at UAB, Nuxoll learned several things about succeeding in athletics and life.
“I think the No. 1 thing [I learned was] selflessness,” said Nuxoll, who credits her former coach at UAB, Brenda Williams, for teaching her several lessons. “If you want to achieve at a high level, you have to put the team before yourself. Everyone wants to play all the time, but that isn’t always what is best for the team.
“[I also learned about] ‘Go Hard or Go Home.’ You have to go hard every time you step into the gym. If you are only going to give half effort in practice, you are not going to reach your full potential in a game. If you want to play all the way around, be a primary passer or have a starting position, you are going to have to give it all you got at practice.”
Nuxoll hopes the lessons she learned at UAB will rub off on the Pirates. The two main things Nuxoll has stressed to her players so far are teamwork and fundamentals.
“High school can be a stressful place for girls, and if you’re not careful, you can get into some ‘drama’ that can easily lead to team dissension. We have talked a lot about working as a team and not letting outside factors interrupt our hard work,” Nuxoll said. “Fundamentals are crucial and something we will need to continue to improve upon at Charlestown. We have to work every day on using correct form and techniques while passing, setting, serving and hitting.”
Nuxoll says building up the feeder system is crucial if the Pirates are to become a winning volleyball program in the future. Nuxoll is happy that Greater Clark County Schools Corporation is allowing its middle schools to start sixth-grade volleyball programs this year.
“We have to get more girls in the community interested in volleyball,” said Nuxoll, who has prior high school coaching experience at Jeff and Clarksville. “Getting girls started earlier will help. We offered a volleyball camp this summer with a good turnout, so I’m hoping as summer camps continue we will generate some interest and excitement with the youth. Passion and commitment are other factors in improving our program. In the past, volleyball was the sport that the girls played to stay in shape for their ‘main’ sport. We need girls to commit to volleyball as their main sport. We also need to get more girls involved in club volleyball.”
TIMBERLAKE KEEPING THINGS POSITIVE
A lot of positive things have happened to Borden volleyball the past few seasons. Under former coach D.J. Zipp, the Braves won Southern Athletic Conference titles in 2009 and 2011 and a Class A sectional championship in 2011.
New coach Gary Timberlake, who succeeded Zipp, wants to keep that streak of positives going.
“It’s never easy for any coach to walk into a new program,” said Timberlake, who is a former coach at Charlestown and Lanesville. “But I’m trying to put this team in a positive direction. I just try to stress positive playing and positive thinking.”
But if the Braves are going to continue their successful run this season, they will have to do it with several young and inexperienced players. Timberlake says his troops are getting a little bit better each day.
“I’m seeing a lot of positive things,” Timberlake said. “They’re starting to put the ball where I want it. They’re buying into it.”
Even though Borden might takes its lumps this season, Timberlake thinks he has got the talent that will make the Braves a team to deal with in the future.
“You’ve got to have some quality players and some athletes,” said Timberlake, who is a veteran coach at Union Volleyball Club in New Albany. “You’ve got to play your system. I think we’ll have a mediocre start to the season, but we’ll be strong by the end of the year. In the next few years, I think we’ll be strong.”