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Together as one 7/14/21

Together as one


By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 


Alma volleyball coach Kim Weaver had her doubts. Deep down, so did some of the Lady Airedales who gathered at Fort Chaffee for some strategized team bonding. 


"I came in in March (2020) and then COVID hit, so that was the first time I've ever been outside the gym with these kids," Weaver said. "I was just floored at how incredible they were. I kind of went in with some low expectations of how they would respond to the challenge and the heat, and they were incredible.


"I think it's super cool how we did it all together."


Alma girls basketball coach Codey Mann helped put together a grueling two-day event at Fort Chaffee that included basketball, softball, and volleyball players.


It was hot. And there was itching from crawling through the grass. 


But it was a win for the Airedales. 


"I thought it was great for our program," Mann said. "We had girls from softball, volleyball, and basketball. Some of those kids, we see them and talk to them but we really don't know them. They were all together; they got to know people they probably didn't get to speak to before. 


"We're all in it for the same reason; we all want to be successful in every single sport."


"I don't think it would have been as neat if it was just volleyball or just softball or just basketball," Weaver said. "I think it was really cool how they were all interspersed together."


Alma softball coach Charla Parrish couldn't agree more.


"The biggest reason we wanted to do this was to get all the girls to become one unit," she said. "We want kids to support each sport. We probably have more cross-over kids (athletes) this coming year than we've had in a long time. 


"It was tough, the kids were tired, but just watching them get together and compete, and strategize amongst their teams on how to do the tasks, that was what we wanted.


"Expectation-wise, they exceeded my expectations for the two days we were there."


“Like coach Parrish said, when they had a break, they were strategizing, and not one of us (coaches) said, ‘You need to do this,’” Weaver said. “They did that on their own. That to me was like, ‘These kids kind of get it.’


“It was really cool to see them work together.”


There were four different teams, with eight to nine girls, competing against each other, Mann said. "We mixed it up," he said. "We had volleyball kids with basketball kids, and basketball kids with softball kids."


On the first day, Fort Chaffee officials put the girls through different stations of teamwork and team bonding. 


Each group had a team leader — Makenzie Rushing, Lydia Mann, Rebekah McIntosh, and Samantha Crook. Three of the four leaders are multi-sport athletes, including McIntosh (volleyball, track, and tennis). 


"It was a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be," Lydia Mann said. "I got to know a lot of people I didn't know before. I had some girls in my classes that I never talked to. After every station, we had a water break and you could sit and talk to people. 


"It put me out of my comfort zone."


"It was really, really competitive," Codey Mann said. "We let them do skits and act like all the coaches, so that was a lot of fun. The next morning we're up at 6 a.m. and we're in formation at 6:30 for an obstacle course."


Parrish believes the two-day event will leave an impression on the players moving forward.


“The kids had to fight through some pain, such as itchy legs from being allergic to the grass and muscle soreness,” she said. “When you’re down in a game, or you need to come from behind, they know how to fight through that now.”


“Softball kids are used to the heat, but volleyball girls, we’re in a nice air-conditioned gym,” Weaver said. “To have to deal with the (heat) was a different challenge for them.”


The grueling two-day event forced kids to rely on one another. 


“Sometimes, kids think it’s all about themselves,” Parrish said. “This was team-oriented, and they had to rely on their teammates. It’s not necessarily about how well I did, but how well we do as a team. We have to do it together to finish.”


"They might have complained to each other, but as a group, they were always plugged in and engaged," Weaver said. "They weren't like, 'When is this going to be over?’


"I think it's those types of things that are going to make such a huge difference for us."