The start of the 2017 regular season for the Lady Panthers is less than a week away. The teams look ready to scratch and claw their way to victory against the schedule of tough opponents thanks to recently held volleyball camps.
The first camp was the Lady Panther volleyball team camp, filled with potential junior varsity and varsity players, held Monday through Wednesday, July 10-12, inside Bullard High School’s gymnasium.
“This year was probably the best camp we’ve had since I got here three years ago,” said O’Bannon, who was on hand to watch the camp’s action. “We had several talented athletes with great attitudes and strong determination to work hard from start to finish. The team seemed to be able to unify and come together as a team.”
Since the team could not be coached by head coach Cristy O’Bannon due to UIL rules regarding coaches working with their teams in the summer, the camp was orchestrated by Lyndsay Mashe, head volleyball coach at the University of Texas at Tyler and former head coach at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall.
“Coach Mashe is a great coach and we have a lot of the same philosophies and techniques in common,” said O’Bannon. “She really instills a good positive atmosphere during the camp; if the girls aren’t encouraging to one another or are not getting loud enough during high points and things like that, she will stop the camp and find ways to get them excited. For her, it’s not just about volleyball, but we have to create our own excitement and momentum. It’s nice for them to hear that from someone else on the outside and not just me saying it every day. That was a neat aspect for them to hear from a coach at the collegiate level.”
During the camp, Mashe laid out a smorgasbord of techniques and drills for the athletes, including focuses on hitting, passing, serve-receive, serving, setting, blocking, as well as touching on defensive and offensive schemes and rotations.
O’Bannon said having a coach of Mashe’s caliber afforded to her program during a camp allowed the players to tie all they were taught at the camp together.
“I don’t want players who act like robots and just go out and do things because they think that’s what they have to do,” said O’Bannon. “I want them to understand why they need to o the right thing, which Coach Mashe really impressed upon them. The girls really learned a lot from here and for that, we are better as a team.”
Additionally, the Lady Panther volleyball program worked to boost the level of preparedness for the upcoming season within its younger ranks, as the program held a camp for their middle school and incoming freshman students Monday through Wednesday, July 24-26, inside the BHS gym.
Able to work with the younger students in the program, O’Bannon was able to lead drills and teach her philosophies and techniques to athletes entering seventh through ninth grade.
According to O’Bannon, the numbers of the annual camp were down due to the camp being held at the end of the summer vacation.
“With it being near the end of summer, everyone’s trying to fit in that last minute family vacation or summer camp which can cause a camp like ours to have low attendance,” said O’Bannon. “We only had eight girls at the camp, but even though the attendance was low, we were able to have a lot of one-on-one instruction and a lot of touches and reps. I’m a fundamentals coach, so we were able to really focus on the fundamentals such as passing, setting, proper footwork, hitting, and defensive work.”
The Lady Panther volleyball program began preparing for the 2017 season with the start of the annual two-a-day practices on Tuesday, Aug. 1.
The team’s lone scrimmage this season will be Saturday, Aug. 5 against the Tyler Robert E. Lee Lady Raiders, with the junior varsity and varsity teams competing at Lee, while the freshman squad will face Lee at John Tyler.
After the Lee scrimmage, O’Bannon said she will begin the tedious responsibility of creating rosters for her three top teams.
The 2017 campaign for the Lady Panthers will begin Tuesday, Aug. 8, as the teams will load the bus and travel to face off against the Carthage Lady Bulldogs.
The BHS Lady Panther volleyball program is coached by head coach O’Bannon and assistant coaches Marisa Ledkins (JV), Season Caughlin (JV), and Megan Dobrinski (freshman).