NEW CHAPEL HILL — The news came last spring and altered Chapel Hill volleyball coach Linda Godwin’s plans for 2012. Two of her top returning players were moving to a different school district, leaving her scrambling to find alternatives.
“We already had started with the offseason and were making plans for this year,” Godwin said. “I was hoping to return five of my starters and now you are down to three — with one of (the transfers) being your setter. And now, you are back to rebuilding.”
In May, Godwin learned that Brooke and Brittany Wright were transferring to Prosper High School when their dad accepted the principal’s position there.
The twin sisters were key members of the Lady Bulldogs’ memorable 2011 campaign, which included a 26-17 record, the program’s first district title since 2002 and a strong effort in the postseason. For their efforts Brooke earned Most Valuable Hitter and Brittany garnered Most Valuable Setter on the All-District 17-3A Team.
The news of their departure was accepted with disappointment by Godwin, who took over a struggling Chapel Hill program four seasons ago and returned it to respectability. The Lady Bulldogs returns Shay Ross, D’Errica Campbell and Alexus Mayfield as the lone returning starters to a team expecting more success in 2012.
So when preseason practice got under way last week, Godwin was able to return to working on filling the Wright sisters’ places in the lineup following a long summer break.
“You are sitting there thinking you’re needing to work with the kids but the UIL prohibits us from coaching the kids in the summer,” Godwin said. “So I really had to encourage my kids to get into the open gym and play summer league volleyball. The kids worked all summer long getting into the gym and staying in shape.”
Godwin said the players reported to Monday’s first practice in shape and thus didn’t need to spend much time on conditioning. That allowed the new faces to the roster to spend most of their time on Xs and Os less than a week from the opening match.
Chapel Hill, which played several scrimmages this weekend, begins the season Monday. The Lady Bulldogs are scheduled to face Van and Harmony in a duel match at Van.
Despite losing the Wright sisters, Godwin is confident the Lady Bulldogs will be ready to play.
“They want to be successful and they know what it’s like to win a district championship,” Godwin said. “The standard has been set and they know now what it takes to reach that goal and that’s what I’ve been pleased with (in two-a-days). They know that somebody has got to step up and be the big playmaker and they are making it happen.”
The return of Ross, Campbell and Mayfield should give the Lady Bulldogs plenty of reasons to be successful once again.
“I think offensively we are going to be good; we just have to get the ball to the setter and I think everything else will take care of itself,” Godwin said.
The setter position is going to junior Danielle Ford, who played for the junior varsity last season.
“Brittany and Brook had such great chemistry and so replacing their positions has been one of my biggest concerns,” Godwin said. “But the kids, when they found out last spring, knew it was going to be a challenge. But my gosh, they have worked so hard (in two-a-days) to get better and fill that empty role.”
Chapel Hill Lady Bulldogs
Number Name Class
1 Daija Maddox Fr.
2 Danielle Ford Jr.
3 Ona Anderson Sr.
4 Alexus Mayfield Sr.
5 Gabby Hampton Sr.
6 Shay Ross Jr.
7 Jami Amenariz Jr.
8 Jay Jay Curtis Sr.
9 Christian Bates Jr.
12 Schuyler Wages Soph.
13 D’Errica Campbell Sr.
14 Gabby Brooks Soph.