‘Every game matters’ in race for title

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Anna Waskey

Franklin High School’s (FHS) Varsity Women’s Volleyball team is doing “very well,” according to Coach Bekah Brooks. The team’s overall record this season is 20-1 and 11-1 in the conference. Brooks’s goals for her team are “to make it to the third round of the playoffs, which would surpass last season’s performance.”

Although the team shared their conference championship with Smoky Mountain last year, they recently won the Mountain Seven Conference outright – the first time since 2011. The team has a first-round bye in the conference tournament, which starts October 12.

According to Emma Ledford, a setter for the FHS women’s varsity volleyball team, “We’re doing a lot better than I thought we would,” she said. “I’m really excited. We’re trying to get further in state playoffs than we did last year.”

As a coach, Brooks hopes to train and mentor “young ladies, across the board, from the classroom to their manners to their skills in volleyball.”

When asked if the players had an amicable relationship with their coach, Ledford stated, “Yes, we love Coach Bekah. She’s really encouraging and gets really hyped-up during games.”

Coach Brooks remarked, “I love my job. I love coming here and coaching them. I love being around them and that’s kind of what has helped us, developing a good relationship. They know when to be silly, they know when to be focused, they know how to have a good time and I love to have a good time. I love energy and enthusiasm and they do too, so it’s been fun to feed off of each other in some of these games.”

According to Kristina Rush, a junior at FHS and a regular attendant of women’s varsity volleyball games, “The team clearly works very well together. Every time I go to a game, I can see how they are like a family; they joke with each other, lift each other up, but can still work hard and focus on the game. Seeing them play is honestly captivating; I’ve never been interested in sports, but their games have so many suspenseful moments and amazing plays you can’t help but ignore everything else. They are a very talented group of girls.”

When the coach was asked who the star players were, she replied, “In volleyball you have to have so many skill levels and people have to do so many different things that if there [wasn’t each player’s skill], there wouldn’t be this team. It’s easy to say ‘star players,’ but a star player, to me, is someone who works 100% every day, has a good attitude, good work ethic and who can literally lay it all on the line for their team. It only takes one bad apple to ruin the batch and, so far, we’ve had some really good apples.”

Plainly put, the team explained that they have one goal: to play as well as possible and they achieve that by working hard, dedicating themselves, and encouraging one another.

Coach Brooks remarked that if she could describe the season in one word, it would be – “’grit.’ It’s pushing the extra mile and doing the things no one else wants to do. It’s giving more than taking and being more about the team than yourself.”

Anna Waskey is an honors student at Franklin High School.