Wilmington’s new volleyball coach seeks to provide stability | Sports

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Wilmington High’s new volleyball coach, LaShana Barnett, is looking to provide the one thing the coaching staff has been missing: stability.

“The girls haven’t had a lot of stability, training-wise, over the last four years,” Barnett said. “We are starting from scratch, starting from zero. As for improvement, it’s just us gelling as a whole and growing.

“The girls absolutely had to trust me, of course. I had to mean what I said and mean what I said. I have an open relationship with ladies. At each practice, we sit down and communicate. I’m not just another coach. I want to be here for the long haul. My elders unfortunately didn’t have any, but I want to give them some while they’re here.

Barnett announced his hire on August 9. She graduated from Hickory High School in 1997 and was a co-Mercer County Conference volleyball champion in 1996.

“I found out about the post, one of the elderly person’s mothers contacted me about Anna Cook leaving,” Barnett said. “So that’s when I applied for the job.”

Barnett has five seasons of coaching experience and was known to many Lady Greyhounds due to her status as a PIAA volleyball official.

“Most of the girls recognized me as an official. I’ve officiated their games for the past two years,” Barnett said of meeting the team. “It was fun, the girls were welcoming and eager to get started. They hadn’t had a trainer in about a month and they were just ready to start and get into the gym.

“The girls just have a great rapport. They get along well, they’re just genuine with each other, they’re willing to help, and they’re ambitious.

Although Barnett has the head coach position filled, there won’t be an assistant coach officially hired until August 16.

“I just found someone. Her name is Jennifer Black. It has not yet been approved by the school board,” Barnett said. “The game is 16th, so she will be the assistant coach. She actually applied for the position and was recommended to me as an assistant. She and I met and I felt like she was really good for the job. It intensifies.

The fundamental principles of Barnett’s coaching are discipline, hard work and respect.

“I just want discipline and hard work from the girls. I want them to give their all on the pitch and not just on the pitch but also off it,” Barnett said. “I feel like respect goes a long way and I want them to continue that throughout life as well.

“I’m still very close to my high school coaches. Chucky Fleet was my high school coach. When I got hired as an official, he was the first one I called, and when I got this coaching job, he was the first one I called.

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