Volleyball will be the first sport to report this summer, normally a week before football, and the Northwest ladies have already set the foundation for making a return to greatness.
The Lady Texans will be under the direction of new head coach Jennifer Chandler, who comes to Northwest from Fossil Ridge.
Chandler was able to have the offseason workouts with the team before the summer break and she feels the girls are committed to putting in the work to get back to the playoffs.
One of the first items on the agenda for Chandler was to work with the team in establishing the culture for achieving that success.
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“The kids have really responded and we came up with core values as a program,” Chandler said. “It’s good to establish the expectations and boundaries.”
With the framework of how the team will think and act, the Lady Texans should also benefit from great leadership.
With several returning players from last year’s team, Chandler said the maturity of the squad has already been demonstrated.
“I’m impressed with how hard they’ve been working and how they’re responding to a new coach,” she said. “It’s been seamless with this group.”
Having a bit of blank slate for a first-year coach allows for development of players in a new system and Chandler said she’s fortunate to have seen the players in both spring drills and league play.
“You get to know their tendencies, offensively what’s their best shot, what they like to run and who you can go to in crunch situations,” Chandler said.
All those around the program have been supportive, including the parents, Chandler noted.
“Parents have been responsive, supportive and very welcoming and helpful,” she said. “Parents want what’s good for the kids. They know the expectations and where we want to take the program and where we’d like to be in the long run.”
The Northwest program is conducting summer camps this week and the added familiarity will prevent the team from having to start from scratch in August.
Players will report back to campus for tryouts on Aug. 1. Scrimmages will start later that week, with the first game slated for Aug. 9.
Although Northwest finished seventh in district last year, the added experience and a new start in a new Class 5A district should be an opportunity for the team.
Chandler warned that the drop to 5A won’t make the competition any easier, though.
Northwest will be grouped with schools including Aledo, Saginaw, Eaton, Azle and Brewer.
The long tradition of success in volleyball at Northwest is well-known by Chandler, and her focus is to help return the program to that level.
“The best I can do is offer the opportunity to be successful,” she said. “They’ve worked really hard in the offseason and the future is promising at Northwest.
“The girls are eager to reestablish that tradition and are excited to be a part of that journey,” Chandler said.