A new cross country coach, volleyball coach and softball coach begin their new tenure with the Tigers

LAURA PIERCY, CROSS COUNTRY

Q: Can you explain your background and why you chose to come to Versailles? How has the school helped you get settled into your new position?

A: I came to Versailles in 1995 to teach 3rd grade. I taught 3rd grade for 13 years and then switched to elementary physical education. I taught elementary P.E. for seven years and coached middle school volleyball, middle school basketball and middle school track during that time.

In 2015, MCR2 was awarded the Healthy Schools, Healthy Communities grant through MFH and I took the position as District Wellness Coordinator. I have been so very lucky to have the support from the administration and staff. Through this grant, we have been able to start the 100 Mile Club for the elementary schools and Tiger Training time for the middle school; hold monthly taste tests that expose students to a variety of new foods; start a school garden; teach health lessons to the elementary students and help purchase equipment for our middle school/staff fitness room.

Q: Why did you choose to coach cross country and do you have an overall message or theme you wish to emphasize to your runners?

A: I coach to empower the athletes. Whether it be volleyball, basketball, track or now cross country, I want to teach them skills they need to be confident, successful and hard-working adults.

Q: Are there any early goals or expectations you have set for the program? What has it been like to work with your new runners so far?

A: This summer we had team runs three days a week and we had great participation. Our goal for summer team runs was to get mileage in and we definitely accomplished that. During the summer team runs, Coach Ashley Pryor and I were able to get to know the athletes and we marveled at their work ethic and camaraderie. Since we are both new to coaching high school cross country, we are going to build upon the great foundation that Mark Garcia created during his tenure as Cross Country coach. I look for the returning runners to lead by example.

Q: Is there anything you have learned or do you have any words of advice for other coaches who are also taking over a new program?

A: My advice to any coach would be to never quit learning. There is always something new you can learn about your sport- you can always improve on what you are doing.

JESSICA OLLISON, VOLLEYBALL

Q: Can you explain your background and why you chose to come to Versailles? How has the school helped you get settled into your new position?

A: I have been a volleyball coach in some capacity for over 13 years and have coached many age levels. The reason I chose to take the volleyball position at Versailles is because my husband also teaches and coaches at Versailles. The administration has been very welcoming and seem excited to have me join their staff, which helps tremendously in the transition.

Q: Why did you choose to coach volleyball and do you have an overall message or theme you wish to emphasize to your players?

A: Volleyball is a fantastic sport that enables athletes to truly showcase their abilities. It is a fast-paced and exciting game that is extremely fun to coach. I base my programs on hard work, respect, hustle and communication. Three of the four of these attributes will also serve them well outside of the game, which should be the ultimate goal of all coaches. We have a responsibility to prepare these young adults to be successful not only in the sport we coach, but life as well.

Q: Are there any early goals or expectations you have set for the program? What has it been like to work with your new players so far?

A: We have talked a little bit about goal-setting as a team over the summer. I think as a whole, we want to be a fierce competitor at the conference and district level. I have high expectations for any team I coach, and this group will be no different. I've been very impressed by the work these girls have put in over the summer and am very excited to see what we can do on the court this season.

Q: Is there anything you have learned or do you have any words of advice for other coaches who are also taking over a new program?

A: Taking over a new program is definitely a difficult thing to do as a coach. The advice that has served me well is to build positive relationships with your athletes, lay out clear expectations and communicate effectively throughout the program.

RUSS FOSTER, SOFTBALL

Q: Can you explain your background and why you chose to come to Versailles? How has the school helped you get settled into your new position?

A: This year will be my 35th year in public education both as an educator, author and coach. I am beginning my sixth year within the Morgan County R2 district. I have been in the softball program for five years, four years as the assistant coach with this being my first year as the head coach. Moving from the assistant role to the head coaching position has been a smooth transition due to the assistance of our athletic director Kyle Middleton and high school principal Chris Marshall.

Q: Why did you choose to coach softball and do you have an overall message or theme you wish to emphasize to your players?

A: My background is that as a baseball coach, but I switched over to the softball game five years ago. I fell in love with the fast-paced game of softball immediately. With the 60 foot bases, slap hitting etc..., there is never a dull moment. Coming off of a less than desirable season, the theme for this year's squad is moving in a positive direction one baby step at a time.

Q: Are there any early goals or expectations you have set for the program? What has it been like to work with your new players so far?

A: Our goal for the upcoming season is all about mastering the concepts of focus and concentration and playing the game one pitch at a time. The players have gotten on board with the new system and seem to be buying in wholeheartedly. I have seen some baby step improvements throughout the summer.

Q: Is there anything you have learned or do you have any words of advice for other coaches who are also taking over a new program?

A: I am at somewhat of an advantage having been in this program for four previous seasons. We face many challenges this season but hope to improve on a practice-by-practice basis.