Knights Vying for State Title
The Knights’ volleyball team will kick off its season Saturday, Sept. 1, when the Lady Knights will take part in the Oak Glen Invitational Tournament. Lots of optimism surrounds the Knights this year as they return last year’s entire team and add seven talented freshman to the roster.
“This is the largest number of players we have ever had, and there is not a bad one in the bunch. High school offers many opportunities for kids, and often you lose a player you were hoping to get. But this year all the ones we were counting on showed up,” said Head Coach Richard Summers.
This year’s team will be led by six juniors who were all starters last year. Josey Jones was named First Team All-State last year, and Alexa Johnson was captain of the Second Team. JoLee Walton earned All LKC Honors. Peyton Kocher, Cora Grimm and Emily Lancaster all had impressive junior campaigns.
“This is a nice group of kids, and what makes them special is they all like each other. Sometimes you get seniors that do what you ask, but they are not close off the floor. This group is close on and off the floor,” added Summers.
Despite the optimism of many, Coach Summers realizes that a lot must happen over the next few months if the Knights are going to have post-season success.
“We must check about 10 boxes before we become a special team,” noted Summers. “We have checks in several of them, but right now we are not a very good ball club. We have great kids who work extremely hard, which coupled with the rigors of our schedule, should help us become a really good volleyball team. It just may take some time getting there, and it won’t be easy,” said Summers.
The Knights will once again be a member of the LKC Conference, which is known for great volleyball.
“Oh yeah,” said Summers. “I can’t remember the last time that a non-LKC team won the state tournament in Single A. This year, no less than six teams just in our division could win it. If you don’t show up to play in this league, you lose, simple as that.”
And the Knights’ non-conference schedule is just as tough, with many matches against strong AAA and AA teams, which expect to be in Charleston.
“There is not much relief in our schedule, and I know all coaches claim that. But honestly, it is a brutal schedule and one that we hope will make us a tough out in November,” Summers said.
In this writer’s opinion Coach Summers and his wife Coach Tracy make a great team. They know how to get the best out of their kids, and they understand the concept of hard work paying off. They understand discipline is a part of coaching no one likes, but everyone needs. Most of the time, these days, kids don’t like to be told what to do, and parents don’t like coaches actually setting rules and making the athletes live up to them. It seems like Coach Summers has a way of using discipline to his, the kids, and overall team’s advantage. That’s a rare commodity in this day and age.
What happens is, if you become successful with what you do, people see it works and they want that for their children. When you get to the high school age it often becomes even more difficult for a coach to control feelings, emotions and tempers. It’s been told that girls are even more sensitive to coaches when it comes to playing time, practice, and rules.
What then would make a group of girls stay together for three or four years when some might have played more than others, when some might have gotten more honors or more awards. Why would you want to be a part of a team when you might not be playing much and someone else is getting all the glory?
That is exactly what has happened at Tyler Consolidated. This year there are six seniors, all who will play a lot, and chances are they will be ultra-successful. Some will be mentioned on All-Star teams and some won’t. There are a bunch of other girls who will not break the line-up. They are younger and still learning, just as most of these girls were four years ago. Again what has kept them together? I say excellent coaching from coaches who know how to treat, not just their athletes, but people. Coaches,who have rules and make everyone abide by them, coaches who spend a lot of time with their team in the off-season. Most of all, coaches who support them and treat them fairly and never play favorites. That’s what Tyler Consolidated volleyball is all about!
Now, after playing for coaches like that, you can rest assured these kids will not only play hard each and every match. They will also teach the younger kids and help them along. That’s how you build a winning tradition. Even with that you, will never win them all, but win, lose, or draw – you will get their best.
If you have not been to a Knights volleyball match, you should check them out. The action is quick and exciting. The Knights will open their home schedule on Sept. 4 against the Williamstown Yellow Jackets with the junior varsity match starting at 6 p.m.