McNeil ready for season
Thursday signified many firsts for Florala High School’s new volleyball program.
It was the first day of official practice for the varsity squad, and it was the first chance for new head coach Joea McNeil to get a glimpse at her team.
This will be the first time that McNeil has taken the reigns of a volleyball team, after having helped coach softball for the Lady Wildcats in 2009.
McNeil has been at FHS for three years, and is the school’s guidance counselor.
“We’re excited and looking forward to the season,” she said. “We’re learning a lot, and I was real impressed with what the girls were able to do (Thursday morning) with it being the first day of practice.”
Thursday also served as a day where interested players could come and tryout for the team.
“I think that they’re going to be good,” McNeil said.
As far as area play is concerned, the Lady Wildcats are in Class 1A, Area 2 with Pleasant Home and Kinston.
“I’m expecting us to win a few games this year,” McNeil said. “I’m hoping that we’re going to win a lot of games, but I’m just looking to win a few, learn a lot and get better as the season moves along.
“I just hope we can let (Pleasant Home and Kinston) know that we are a team that is somebody to watch,” she said.
In addition, McNeil said she hopes to add a junior varsity team next year.
McNeil is so fresh on the job that it wasn’t two weeks ago when she was asked by FHS athletic director Chris Buckler to take the job as the volleyball head coach.
When asked if all of this is overwhelming, McNeil said it has been somewhat, but things are starting to work out.
“I’m excited because I’ve been able to work it out with band and cheerleading so they can still play volleyball,” she said. “Both of those have been awesome working all of this out.”
In order to meet the demanding schedule of her players, McNeil said the team will hold practices later in the day.
“Just so it doesn’t put the girls in a bind,” she said.
Now that practice has started, McNeil said the focus right now is strictly on the “basics.”
“The focus is us knowing what the rules are, us learning how to do a set up, how to serve the ball, returning the ball — that’s what we’re focusing on right now,” she said. “Of course, we want to learn all of the tricks of the trade, but right now, if you don’t learn all of the basics, then you don’t have anything.”