It’s always an uphill battle for the schools with a smaller population, but it’s a battle RMHS volleyball coach Jamie Cooley is determined to win this year, and the 16 girls on her team share that enthusiasm.
Cooley said most of the girls were fit and ready at the start of practice on Aug. 18 after attending a summer long “sports excel” fitness camp led by trainer Jessica Campbell, a former RMHS graduate.
Though the team lost two heavy hitters to graduation (Shauna Loman and Hannah Winland) and their setter (Haley Strom), Cooley said she is already seeing potential for those positions even in early practice sessions.
Returning this year are seniors Mikaela Hocker, Maddie Crawford, Jennifer Parker and Laura Ferguson. Juniors include Ashlei Carroll and Kaitlyn Hayes. Sophomores include heavy hitter Marissa Arnold, along with Summer Johnson, Livia Higgins, Brianna Brumwell and Mikayla McWhirter and freshmen Abby Arnold, Mariah Mader, Brenda Timmons, Pepper Lewis and Maddy Hocker.
Cooley said both the newer and more established players are concentrating on conditioning and on the fundamentals of the game in early practices.
Cooley said she is very impressed with the girls so far.
“These girls are not only hard workers but are nice and very kind to each other,” she said. “It’s really nice to see the more experienced girls encourage and motivate the other girls.”
Assistant coaches this year are once again Kayla Honeyman and Cari May.
Cooley said she is very proud of the level of sportsmanship the girls are already showing.
The varsity girls will start their season this week at the North Big Horn Invitational on Friday and Saturday, which will be hosted by the Lady Bulldogs in Lovell. Rocky girls will play their first varsity match at 5 p.m. on Friday and pool play will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday in the Johnny Winterholler gymnasium in Lovell.
JV games will be hosted by Rocky Mountain High School on the same days, with matches starting at 3 p.m. on Friday and Rocky’s first match at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
“This will be a tough one for a small team like ours since we rely on filling in with JV girls for the varsity team and freshmen girls for the JV team,” she said. “It’s kind of hard to do that when varsity is held in one town and JV is held in another, but we’ll make it work anyway.”
By Patti Carpenter