Wildcats hope for fresh start
The De Soto girls volleyball team is back in action and resolved to improve on last year's season. Coming off a record of 0-28, that should not be too difficult.
"We have nowhere to go but up," Coach Kelly Meyer said.
Meyer and her varsity players are hosting a volleyball camp this week for De Soto girls in the fourth through eighth grades. After a morning of shaping the Wildcats of tomorrow, the players are participating in a clinic of their own in the afternoons.
"We have about 50 people participating all together," Meyer said. "And that's about split down the middle, with 25 or so in the younger clinic and about 25 in the high school clinic."
Meyer said the high school clinic is not an official try-out for the varsity team, but does give her a good idea of what she can expect to see when practice starts in August.
The clinics give the players a chance to return to basics, the coach said, teaching the younger athletes skills such as passing, setting, serving and hitting during the morning clinic and practicing what they preach during the afternoon clinic.
"It's good for the younger kids, but its good for the older kids as well," she said. "Sort of a see one, do one, teach one, kind of thing."
She hopes the extra effort will pay off in the coming season.
"Last year was a building year for the team," Meyer said. "We didn't have any seniors on the team and it was tough. But they did well and made improvements throughout the season. A lot of the girls have worked hard this summer and I think that will make a difference."
Among the returning players, Meyer will have two seniors, Tia Bernard and Kristi Hoschouer.
Bernard agreed that the extra year of experience will make a difference.
"A lot of us have played in summer leagues and there have been big improvements in a lot of the players," she said.
Moving into an unconventional leadership role will be sophomore Allie Heinen, who started on the varsity team as a freshman last year.
Despite her age, Heinen said she was comfortable with the coach's expectations of her to be among the team's leaders.
"I don't find it that difficult at all," she said. "We all play as a team and no one really worries about what grade level you are. We just all fit in well together and work together."
Meyer said that type of attitude helped the team make it through an otherwise rough season last year.
"Every girl hung in there and came out every day for practice," she said. "The girls all had great attitudes. They kept me motivated."
Meyer said Hoschouer played a big part in keeping the team positive and looks for more of the same from her this year.
"She was voted most spirited and enthusiastic last year," Meyer said.
Her good attitude didn't dissipate during the off season.
"We should do much better this year. Last year, we didn't have any seniors and Tia and I were the only two returning players," Hoschouer said. "This year we have more experience. My goal is to work more as a team this year and to win more."
Heinen also wants to win more games this year, but she is also willing to take it one step at a time.
"I know we're probably not going to go 28-0 this year," she said. "I just want to do better than last year and hopefully, be a .500 team."
Bernard said much of the credit for keeping the players motivated in the midst of last year's losing season should go to Meyer.
"She's one of the best coaches I've ever had," she said. "She's not only a coach, but a friend as well. She was a real motivator for us."