Home matches this weekend
by Than Acuff
Coaching changes can always be tough for a sports program and the Crested Butte Titans volleyball team underwent their third change in the past three years, with Morgan McNallie now taking the reins as the head coach.
Though the change is not completely from left field.
McNallie has a long and successful volleyball career, growing up playing competitive club volleyball in Texas as well as a stint in sand volleyball, including a trip to the sand volleyball US Nationals in Chicago.
“I’ve been playing volleyball quite a while,” says McNallie. “I know it and I love it.”
In addition to her career, McNallie also has a connection to the Titans program. Her family has a house here in Crested Butte and her younger sister played middle school volleyball for Crested Butte and is an incoming freshman this year. Furthermore, when McNallie would visit, she stopped by the gym several times to help former coaches Marla Covey and Heather Perry. Then, upon hearing of the coaching position opening last January, she applied and was hired.
“I’m super happy to be in the position I am,” says McNallie.
McNallie immediately made a point to get open gym times for players throughout the summer and had the girls get in some time at the sand court as well. The team started pre-season officially on Monday, August 6 and McNallie was thrown a curveball the day before workouts started.
“My JV coach opted out the day before tryouts started and I’ve had to coach both teams, which has been hard,” says McNallie. “I’m looking for a JV coach, fingers crossed.”
Nevertheless, McNallie forged on with pre-season workouts with 23 girls out for the team this year, making sure she gets the basics in before they go anywhere else with the game technically.
“Our focus has been conditioning and getting back to basics, strengthening all-around skills,” says McNallie. “Getting them strong and in shape first makes everything easier.”
In addition, McNallie wants to help build a culture in and around the sport.
“Volleyball isn’t the number one sport with the girls here but I think everybody is excited to have me as a coach,” explains McNallie. “I want to bring that competitive atmosphere that I had to the program but still have fun. I want to change the attitude and atmosphere, create a community because volleyball is a great way to build friendships on and off the court. If I can help improve their skills and boost confidence, maybe that perspective will change.”
The team is young with just four seniors on the roster, but McNallie credits the seniors with a lot of support for both her as a new coach and for the team.
“They’ve been so helpful in showing me how they’ve been taught and what they want to incorporate into the program,” says McNallie. “They’re setting an awesome foundation for the rest of the girls.”
The Titans play in a very competitive 2A league but McNallie believes they should be able to rattle things this season. She got a glimpse of some of their opponents during a team camp at WSCU and is looking forward to a successful season.
“I feel like we have a fair chance,” says McNallie. “We have team chemistry and I feel like this could be a great season for the varsity girls.”
The Titans will open the season at home this weekend as they host Ridgway on Friday, August 17 at 4:30 p.m. and then Caprock Academy on Saturday, August 18 at 4 p.m. in mighty Mt. Olympus.
“There’s opportunity for them to go far this year—it’s exciting,” says McNallie.