Every coach has experienced a moment like the one Briget Melancon of Brighton School experienced before a recent volleyball tournament match.
“We were about to play against Lee and I was afraid it wasn’t going to go well,” said Melancon. “Lee is very good and tall. We don’t have a lot of height and this is our second college season.
“But you know what… we didn’t win, but we played so well. There were girls diving on the ground to pick up balls and we were passing. They were reacting and doing the things that we work on every day. I was so proud.
The Bengals (7-6, 1-0) won 3-0 over Louisiana School for the Deaf in their District 4-V opener on Monday, another notable achievement for a third-year program.
“It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had,” said Melancon, “but it’s also the most rewarding. I’m competitive and I always want to win. Coaching these girls made me rethink how to do it. things. They’re better and so am I. “
Brighton, a Class C school, specializes in the education of students with dyslexia and associated learning differences. Part of the new teacher training that Melancon took two years ago has really hit home. Teachers were asked to perform tasks by seeing them through a mirror, essentially the image a student with dyslexia sees.
“These students are coming to the same place as us, they just take a different path to get there,” Melancon said. “Their method of learning is different. They have to work extremely hard. For them, taking what they hear and acting on it is not always that easy.
Case in point: When Melancon started teaching players the basic drills, she would tell them to move left or right. More than one froze, trying to figure out which way to go. The solution was to put duct tape on a knee brace or on the top of a shoe for “left”.
Adapting to situations of loud noises and crowded spaces can also be a problem. Melancon said the players ‘parents are helping and applauding the Bengals’ successes.
Melancon offers another example. Two years ago, the Bengals took part in a junior college tournament in a crowded and noisy gymnasium. Parents stepped in to help calm a player who found himself overwhelmed after a game.
Melancon’s concerns about the overall impact were quickly alleviated. Two players spoke with pride of playing “real volleyball” at a picnic table over lunch.
The Bengals’ 11-player squad, which includes girls in grades 7-12, have steadily improved their skills over the past two years. They’ve mastered basic skills and learned to perform the same offensive systems as most high school teams.
“I love volleyball,” said defensive specialist Amelia LeBlanc. “No matter what kind of day I have at school, volleyball makes things better. I love everything about it… playing and being part of a team.
LeBlanc’s feelings fulfill one of the key goals set when Melancon started the volleyball program two years ago.
“They’ve come this far,” Melancon said. “When I interviewed (Brighton Principal Kenny Henderson) his idea was to use athletics to give students a sense of belonging outside of their classes.
“I think parents see this as a building towards the future. At some point, when they are adults, they will be in a situation where they will have to react and react. Dyslexia will not be taken into account. That’s what they do in volleyball.
Setter Jessica Jones said volleyball offered a release after a hectic day of lessons. KK LeGaux adds: “We have come a long way. There is a sense of accomplishment.
Three of his players have chosen to play club volleyball in addition to being part of the Brighton squad.
There are times when Melancon needs to take a break and take a step back.
“It’s not one size fits all, as each student and their needs are different,” Melancon said. “One thing I have learned is to be patient. The other day a player asked a question about something that we look at every day. There was no point in making it a problem. We went there and moved on. “