- Alma School District
Weaver excited to begin off-season
Weaver excited to begin off-season
By Kevin Taylor
First-year Alma volleyball coach Kim Weaver can't wait to get into off-season.
She didn't get much of one last year.
The Lady Airedales battled through COVID-19, a lack of summer camps, and learned to communicate via Zoom. On top of that, the turbulent 5A-West produced another state champion — the Greenwood Lady Bulldogs.
"If we can compete well in our conference, we can compete well on the state level," Weaver said. "That is how good the 5A-West is. I have so much respect for the coaches in our conference. Coach (Jennifer) Golden (Greenwood), Coach (Katie) Huff (Greenbrier), and others are doing great things to grow the game of volleyball in their communities."
Greenwood defeated perennial power Jonesboro last week in the 5A finals to claim the school's third championship since 2011.
For Alma, even with a number of key players back in 2020, the team fell behind because of COVID and the inability to participate in summer team camps.
"I think we all (coaches and athletes) will be entering this off-season with a fresh perspective of just how important it is," Weaver said. "COVID challenged us to find new ways to connect, but we are thankful for the opportunity to use Zoom as just one of the tools we can utilize for programming this winter and spring. There just isn't a substitute for time on the court together."
Weaver will have some key players back in the fold in 2021, but will certainly miss a dedicated group of seniors.
"Our seniors are not just leaders within the volleyball program, they are leaders within Alma High School," Weaver said. "I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to coach them, even for just a short period of time."
Weaver was named the team's head coach last December. She was just beginning to learn faces and names last March when the coronavirus effectively shut down national schools.
"A coaching change is never easy, especially for one to happen right before your senior year," Weaver said. "I don't take for granted how well our seniors adjusted, and were willing to buy into the staff changes we made. and the Alma community.
"I am so grateful to be able to work with Coach (Charla) Parrish. She is a legend in the coaching community for a reason. No one works harder for our kids than she does."
Along with Rebekah McIntosh and Rachel James, two key holdovers for 2020, the Lady Airedales are building some strong junior teams.
"Rebekah McIntosh will definitely be a player to watch next season. I predict she will be one of the top six rotation outside hitters in our conference," Weaver said. "I can't wait to see what Rachel James looks like in August. After a full offseason together and another club season under her belt - she is going to make a huge difference for us in 2021."
Alma's ninth grade finished fourth in the River Valley conference between Greenwood, Ramsey and Trinity.
"I was most impressed by their ability to make big plays in big moments," Weaver said. "This group is going to make some waves in our high school program next fall, and I can't wait! Our 8th grade group is really fun to watch. They were 13-7 on the season, and continued to get better every match. Both of our seventh grade teams combined for a 13-13 record, but that doesn't at all illustrate how much they grew to understand and play the game this season. Coach (Whitney) Adams and Coach (Angie) Passen did an outstanding job developing our middle school and junior high volleyball athletes this season."
There are no official blueprints when it comes to building a program. But one good place to start is within spring and summer JO (junior olympic) programs.
Six area teams (Greenwood, Southside, Mansfield, Lavaca, Hackett and Paris) played for state titles last weekend — almost all of them had players within the Fort Smith Juniors.
"We are extremely excited to offer satellite teams through FSJ right here in Alma," Weaver said. "ASD (through Coach (Doug) Loughridge and Mr. (Travis) Biggs) has partnered with the Boys and Girls Club to provide a gym for our teams to practice in during the week. In addition to our club teams, we will be offering clinics throughout the spring for volleyball athletes in our area."