Wildcats hope to carry momentum into 2006
First is tennis, which starts Thursday. Soccer is Friday, followed by cross country and football next week.
Finally, Sept. 5, four days after football starts and 12 days after tennis, De Soto's volleyball season will get under way.
It's frustrating, first-year coach Junelle Woolery said, and at the same time, it's a relief.
"I do like having that time," she said. "We'll get into it and I'll be antsy to get playing, but at the same time, I'm going to be ready to go when gameday comes. We'll have to keep the kids motivated until then."
Woolery, a former De Soto High School athlete who went on to play college softball at Pittsburg State, said she has plenty of ideas on how to use the extra time.
First up is simply getting acquainted with the team, she said.
Both of the program's coaches, head coach Lori Brooks and assistant Kelly Dennis, left in the offseason, leaving Woolery's new three-person staff the difficult task of singling out the leaders and realizing each players strengths and weaknesses.
"We want to see them and make our own judgment," she said. "Obviously we have some ideas, but we want to get our personnel and go from there."
Though she said she wants her staff to make the decisions alone, advice and help has turned up every direction she's looked. Woolery said she's talked to Brooks about how the team earned a 22-16 record last season and tries to glean every bit of advice and volleyball know-how from her two assistants that she can.
In the end, Woolery said she hopes to combine it all into the product fans will see on the floor.
"It'll be a combination," she said. "What I learned when I was here, I've talked to coach Brooks and we'll use some of that, and all the knowledge my assistants have. We'll use a combination of all of that figuring out what offensive and defensive schemes we want to run and what different sets we want to have."
While the particular strategies and formations the Wildcats will employ may still remain up in the air, a few of the Cats doing the employing won't be.
Jackie Goleman emerged as one of the team's leaders in 2005 and is just one of a number of experienced, talented players De Soto welcomes back.
Goleman, the tallest returning Cat, will always figure in at the net. Kayla Bader is a junior defensive specialist, though Woolery said she'll be asked to contribute offensively as well. Senior Sydney Tenney will assume setting responsibilities while Lisbeth Rosales and Christina Davis will also return for their senior season with experience.
Sophomores Carlie Burnett, Amber Laudick and Danielle Price round out the varsity team.
"We have a great core of girls returning -- good leaders," Woolery said. "Jackie gives great effort and has put in time in the gym, as have lots of other players. She'll be one of our better offensive threats."
Still, nothing is a lock, Woolery said. With nearly two weeks remaining before the first game, she said there are still plenty of lessons being taught, both by her and her coaching staff to the players, and by the players to the new coaching staff.
"I was really pleased with the effort I've seen," Woolery said. "There's a lot of heart and a lot of effort -- stuff you can't teach. I feel good because we can tweak any skills we need to.
"Coach Brooks has done a phenomenal job of building the program. I feel confident we can keep the ball rolling the way she started it."