BY NATALY VASQUEZ
Yvanna Lopez, head varsity coach and Stephanie Palacio, assistant coach, will begin their first year as varsity volleyball coaches for Calexico High School. They are ready to coach an amazing team of hard working girls that will be playing against Holtville on September 12 at Holtville High School at 6:00 pm. Yvanna Lopez graduated from Calexico High School in 2010 and played volleyball all four of her high school years. Stephanie Palacio is also a Calexico High School alumna of 2010. She played four years for the Bulldogs and two years at Imperial Valley College. Both coaches have implemented their experience as volleyball players and have created strong and motivated girls on the team.
Coach Lopez coached junior varsity for two years. Last year was her first time as assistant coach for the varsity team. The previous coach, Claudia Maeda, gave the opportunity to Lopez to become head varsity coach because she knew Lopez was ready to handle the team on her own. “I felt like I was ready after being there for three years. I knew I could do this,” said Coach Lopez with confidence.
This summer, the coaches held open gym for freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The purpose of open gym is so the girls trying out for the volleyball team learn the basics of volleyball and work on advancing at their own pace. The goal for this year’s open gym was so that the girls could be ready for tryouts which were held on August 1st.
Before tryouts, the coaches hosted what is called “hell week” which means that the girls had to condition for an entire week instead of using the ball to practice.
During “hell week”, the new girls trying out for the team for the first time had “to give it their all” in order to make the team. As for previous players, they had to earn their previous position in order to make the team again. The following week was tryouts, which had a good turnout. Twelve girls made the varsity team, 12 made the junior varsity team, and 11 made the freshmen team. The teams practice once a week after school. Varsity games are on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s.
This year, the varsity captains are Nataly Martinez who is the setter and a sophomore and Iran Alvarez who is a junior. The varsity team won their first game on August 29, 2017 against San Luis by a score of 3-0. The girls were confident and were able to handle being nervous. “We were super proud that everything went according to plan,” said Coach Palacio. Both coaches incorporated a number system for the different types of plays on the net. They are forcing the team to remember the numbers in order to run the number during the games. This is the first time the team is trying this new method. “Letting the girls play around with the number system and learning to run to place by themselves is what we want the girls to get used to,” said the coaches.
A big change the coaches want to implement is to have a good relationship with the team and have mutual respect for one another. “We make it clear what we expect from them and the attitude we want on the team. They should also feel comfortable to have good communication with us and not be afraid to speak up,” said the coaches. Both coaches hope that this year the varsity team will win the IVL. In order to get there both coaches point out that volleyball is not just a sport; it is more than that.
“We want to invest in those girls’ lives. It is not just volleyball; they are also girls growing up to be women in the workforce, and we want them to be women of integrity and honor.”