As Jinni Walker prepares for her first season as a head coach, she realizes the realm she will be entering.
The last time Hurst L. D. Bell hired a new volleyball coach was 38 years ago when it gave the job to Vickie Griffin. Now, Walker, an assistant under Griffin for three years, takes over to lead the Lady Raiders.
“I think it is important to honor her legacy, and that is a big part of what this year is about,” Walker said. “She is so much more than a coach to many. She instilled principles such as striving to be your greatest self, following your dreams and putting the team first.”
Walker coached and taught for a year at Bedford Junior High. Prior to that, she coached club volleyball for the then-named Mid-Cities Juniors and North Dallas Juniors. She has also coached a sixth-grade YMCA team and elementary students at various sports camps.
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“I have coached kindergartners up to seniors in high school,” she said.
She played at Dripping Springs High School from 1991 to 1995, winning Class 3A state championships in basketball and volleyball. Then, at the University of Texas at Arlington she played for the Southland Conference runners-up as a junior (1997) and SLC champs as a senior (1998).
As for her team at Bell this season, Walker returns five of six starters from a 15-24 squad that was 4-8 in district. This includes District 7-6A Co-Newcomer of the Year Isabella Burns, a sophomore. Junior Sophie Rodgers was first-team all-district last season, while senior Shawna Glick and junior Allison Barton were second-team. Three-year lettermen, junior Sydney Williams and senior Maegan Madden, were honorable mentions.
“On and off the court, I’m looking for a lot of leadership from our seniors,” Walker said. “We have six seniors in total. This is a group of young women who have been friends and teammates for a significant amount of time.”
The Bell subvarsity teams saw some success last season. Walker said some of those players could make their way to the varsity this season.
“There will be a couple of girls from both our freshman and JV teams that will add to our depth and contribute on the court,” she said.
The Lady Raiders last reached the postseason in 2014. They enter a new league, District 5-6A, which includes defending state champion Lewisville Hebron, along with playoff teams Southlake Carroll (regional quarterfinals) Trophy Club Nelson and rival Euless Trinity. It also includes Flower Mound Marcus, Flower Mound and Lewisville.
“Our new district is supercompetitive,” Walker said. “I’m really looking forward to watching my girls compete. I think we are going to see some fantastic volleyball.”
And will we see her on the sidelines for nearly four decades like her predecessor?
“Regarding a 38-year career, in talking with Griff, time flies, so who knows?” Walker said. “I am goal-oriented, so I certainly have goals related to my tenure here.
“One thing I can say is that I love L.D. Bell High School. I work with extremely talented and committed colleagues, and our students truly amaze me. This is a top-notch high school. I’m blessed that my path brought me here.”