The Belton Lady Tigers Volleyball program started their tryouts on Tuesday in a compressed two-a-day fashion, with the tryouts to last three days.
Nearly 80 athletes took part in the initial tryout on Tuesday
While the competition is hot and heavy for the coveted varsity spots, the competition is simultaneous with the junior varsity and two freshman squads.
The tryouts started with calisthenics and testing, which encountered triple jumps, measurement of vertical jumps, shuttle drills, and cone drills.
The players went from the comfortable air-conditioned Tiger Gym to Tiger Field, as the morning sun made the home-side bleachers feel like a sauna. The players went into the stands from the north side and up and down the stairs several times before exiting the south side. They ran around the field on to the south part of the track to the visitors’ side, where they went up and down the stands until they reached the north side exit. They then sprinted to the finish line just in front of the home stands. After a 10-minute rest, they repeated the run again.
The players went back inside and the varsity/junior varsity players went home for a two-hour break, while the freshman reconvened after 30 minutes. They worked on serving, volleys, setting, blocking, kills and ended the session with some rally play. The varsity and junior varsity went through the same drills from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Varsity head coach Krystal Brodbeck, varsity assistant Whitney Stout, junior varsity head coach Jordan Petter, freshman head coach Amanda Dunaway and the middle school volleyball coaching staffs spent from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday analyzing players and data. Brodbeck, Stout, Petter and Dunaway stayed past quitting time to breakdown the first day’s activities.
“I was very impressed with the camaraderie that the girls showed in the afternoon session,” Brodbeck said. “There was a great deal of encouragement out there. The girls came in with a focus. I was proud of the turnout today.”
The girls displayed a great deal of coachability during the day.
“The girls have an understanding of what we expect of them,” Brodbeck said. “We have a great deal of talent this year and they did a good job of asking for input. Overall, I believe the coachability of this group was good today.”
“I was impressed, after the workout this morning, for the girls to come back and display the energy that they did, with effort and great fight,” Stout said. “When the kid was asked to do something, it was always met with a ‘yes ma’am’ or ‘yes, sir’ and asked if they had fixed it.”
“I saw that the majority of the kids responded very well,” Petter said. “They wanted to learn. They wanted to get better. That’s improvement in our program in general. That shows a great deal of pride in themselves, their integrity and their character. And that goes into the program. Our kids are very coachable. That makes our team that much stronger.”
“The upperclassmen were asking us what they could do to be better,” Dunaway said. “They asked what they needed to do to fix this or that.”
Texas UIL rules state that volleyball cannot start until August 1. Because August 1 fell on a Tuesday in 2017, teams had one less day for tryouts. For Belton, the cuts and teams will be made during Thursday’s tryouts.
“We have been trying to get that across all summer,” Brodbeck said. “Half of the battle is knowing that we are at a disadvantage of that right away. Every volleyball coach in the state has the same disadvantage. Our kids know about the time crunch and they know that they have to bring it.”
“You’re looking at Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, selecting teams and then trying to get some team-time in before the first scrimmage on Friday,” Stout said. “The kids have to get familiar who is beside them, how they play and the communication factor. And you have to decide what positions you’re going to ask them to play.”
The data collection is paramount in the tryout process. Brodbeck feels that she has a solid group of coaches that help her out in the breaking down of data and player’s skills.
“I am blessed to work with this group because thus far, we have had a collaborative effort to make the best decision for our kids,” Brodbeck said. “I believe that everyone here has the heart to make the decisions that we are going to make. I think important that everyone has a voice in that. It is a total team effort. It has been from the start and I have been impressed with our staff.”
“Obviously, there are no-brainers for decisions,” Stout added. “And with the level of talent that continues to rise from this program, there are some tough decisions. We’ll sit down for at least an hour after the sessions every day.”
“The decisions are hard,” Petter said. “I have my mind set at one point, then I talk to them in another setting and change my mind. We will definitely discuss what we need to see out of the kids for an hour or two each day, what to expect and what positions we still have open. Like Whitney said, there are tough decisions and they will change about a kid. At one point, you see something spectacular and then you see a behavior that you weren’t expecting that changes your decision entirely. We have a great deal to talk about and little time.”
The strength of the afternoon session was the energy after a tough morning.
“I think some of it was the girls being excited that they were going to be able to touch a ball in the afternoon,” Stout said. “It’s easier to condition them in the morning and having them come back in the afternoon excited.”
The scrimmage schedule will send the Lady Tigers to Temple on Friday and to Del Valle on Saturday (10 a.m.).
The Lady Tigers will host Stony Point on Monday at Tiger Gym in their regular season opener.