Talk about a crash course in getting to know your team. It’s already been documented how new Grapevine volleyball coach Kori Cooper interviewed for the opening on July 21 and hired the same day.
With the exception of talking to her inherited staff, it’s also well known that Cooper knew nothing about her team until she started watching the players go through camp last week. But sometimes, you just have to make the best of the reality. Practices for the 2014 season began on Monday.
The rookie head coach, though, has been eager to get this started since she the school board approved her. Cooper knows she’s replacing a very successful coach in Diane Wilson, who left after 18 seasons to take the Arlington Bowie position.
“Obviously, Diane established a very strong program here, but that makes it easier for me because the girls know what the expectations are,” Cooper said. “It’s a little different, because my style of coaching may be different from what they were used to.
“The thing is that we have some good players. But you want to make your good players comfortable being uncomfortable with the transition. All of us are adjusting to each other, so some things may look different.”
Cooper’s credibility in the sport is fashioned by the 2006 national championship ring she’s wearing from when she played at the University of Nebraska. She also returned to the Final Four in 2008.
“I would hope that being a player not long ago will mean something,” Cooper said. “There’s still that connection to when I played, so I know what they’re going through.”
There’s definitely a solid group returning. Grapevine should also be a playoff team, considering that 6-5A is not going to be viewed as a volleyball power outside of Grapevine, Birdville and Lake Dallas.
“Regardless of the class we’re in, we’re going to train at a level like we are at 6A,” Cooper said. “There are expectations here. And we don’t want the players to be complacent. We want them to get better every day.”
Coach: Kori Cooper (1st season)
2013 record: 26-17, 9-5 in district; lost to Coppell in Class 5A Region I bi-district
Expected returning starters (heights not available): Sr. Nicole Taake, DS; Sr. Chandler Coolbaugh, S; Sr. Abby Lawton, MB
Expected key players: Jr. Taylor Kress OH; So. Parker Fenton OH
Notable: Grapevine will be playing host to its own tournament for the first weekend and then compete in the Northwest ISD and Plano tournaments the following two weekends … Fenton did not go through team camp last week because she was sick, Cooper said. However, Fenton was expected to be ready for this week.• There are two other players to watch as August unfolds. They are sophomore outside hitter Jordan McCalla and junior right side Lindsey Gardner. Gardner is left-handed ... Cooper believes this is a really good team, but it will be down to how fast everybody can get into the same mindset
• There is a new assistant coach in Steve McBride, who is also the new girls soccer coach ... Cooper likes the strength of her team at the pins.