High interest in Cyclone program spurs decision
One of the largest groups of girls to sign up for the Alta High volleyball team in school history made its first impact on the program this week, as the Alta school board approved adding a third coach to the volleyball staff, a personnel move designed to reduce the player-coach ratio and provide opportunities for younger players to receive ample practice and playing time this year.
Head coach Jeannie Henningsen and assistant coach Molly Elston will receive reinforcements from a soon-to-be-hired person to help teach the 39 players expected to show up for team camp this August, cutting the player-coach ratio from 1:20 to 1:13 during practice sessions this season.
Henningsen said she was very appreciative of the school board's decision, and said she is looking forward to the addition to the coaching staff.
"I think it's definitely a win-win situation for everybody," Henningsen said. "We'll be able to help provide better instruction for the girls, the younger girls will be able to practice a lot with the third coach and learn fundamentals on their own, and hopefully it will help keep the younger girls out for volleyball because they'll be playing during practice and learning rather than only being able to stand around while the older girls use the courts. It's something that's very exciting for us."
The news impacts the 12 freshmen who will arrive to the team this fall the most, as it will allow them to have their own practice time before or after school. With only two courts available in the AHS gym, only 24 girls are able to compete at one time, leaving the rest of the team - usually the freshmen - with no place to practice drills or play competitively.
Now, the third coach will lead younger, inexperienced players through their own practice sessions, a move Henningsen said would pay dividends.
"Now those girls will be able to get some really good practice time in, and that's going to help them have fun now and become better players in the future," Henningsen said. "The issue of getting them enough practice time was something we were concerned about, but now that group is going to get a lot of good time on the court."
The Cyclones will be divided into three different squads this year (varsity, varsity reserve and junior varsity), and the 27 on the top two teams will be able to use the high school gymnasium after school, while the junior varsity will practice either before school or after the first two teams are done with practice.
Henningsen said the separate practice sessions won't affect the overall unity of the squad.
"There's still going to be unity on the team," Henningsen said. "We're all going to be practicing together for the first two weeks, and we'll all have games on the same nights, so everybody will be a part of the same Alta team."
Alta finished with an overall record of 8-9 last year.