The New Brockton Lady Gamecocks were young last season – with no seniors – but may be even younger heading into the 2019 season.
Despite having three seniors on the 2019 squad, New Brockton also lost four starters from last year’s team, as well. Three of New Brockton’s 2019 starters transferred to other schools in the summer and another was lost to injury, but head coach Jennifer Graham has been pleased with what she has seen from her youngsters.
“We’ve been working hard all summer,” Graham said. “We have a lot of new kids that are new to volleyball in general, so we’ve been working on the basics, fundamentals and footwork with them mostly.
“They’ve been working really hard – a lot of 6:45 a.m. practices in the mornings – so, the dedication has been great. All of that will pay off eventually.”
The Lady Gamecocks will be looking to senior co-captains Mary Beth Smith and Paula McKenna for leadership this season.
“Mary Beth Smith was probably our No. 1 hitter last season and Paula (McKenna) is a returning two-year starter at setter,” Graham said. “They’re captains together, so you’ll see a lot between them making things happen. Paula has really great hands and is just fun to watch play, and Mary Beth is a tremendous athlete.”
Along with her seniors, Graham also expects a number of eighth graders and freshmen to get plenty of playing time in 2019.
“We’re really young,” she emphasized. “Not a lot of prior volleyball knowledge for some of our girls but they’re great athletes. They’re picking things up but the learning curve is there.
“You have to start somewhere, though. I’m just proud of them for soaking it all in and not getting frustrated.”
Graham said that passing is a key aspect of the game her team is focusing on in fall camp and her goal for the season is simply to get better.
“Our goal is just to get better,” Graham emphasized. “I have some kids on varsity that are new to the sport and we lost a lot of players from last year’s team. So, we just want to get better each week.”
New Brockton will up the competition on Tuesday, Aug. 20, with a scrimmage featuring a number of former Lady Gamecock players.
The Lady Gamecocks JV and varsity squads will go up against two teams made up of New Brockton alumni at the scrimmage.
“Some of those kids have been coming back all summer long helping the girls,” Graham said of the alumni players. “They’re awesome kids that just want to be around the game.
“I think this is helping bring the tradition back here and I just feel like the fact that the kids still love to come back and play is so great.”
The scrimmage will be open to the public and free of charge to attend, with a start time of 5 p.m.
New Brockton starts off the regular season against Kinston on the road two days later on Aug. 22.