To start the 2019 volleyball season, Timber Creek has gone on a winning streak to absolutely demolish last year’s season record.
After a rough 2018 season that rocked the Timber Creek Volleyball team, the returning players were left with a sense of defeat. The team faced a hard district and played teams like Byron Nelson, V.R. Eaton and Southlake Carroll that have stacked and cohesive teams with many college committed players. To top off that sense of defeat, the beloved Coach Wood would take a leave of absence after the season to be with her newborn child. Combined with the four seniors that graduated, the team then had to start all over again with only two returning starters. Although volleyball season was over, players continued to train on the court and in the weight room, but it constantly felt like the magic was lost.
But after the tough and heartbreaking 2018 season, a bright light shone through the darkness — the Timber Creek Volleyball team would be getting a brand new coach and a new start for 2019.
Meet the New Boss
Throughout the end of April and all of May, parents and players spoke with school and district athletic directors about what they wanted in a coach. The players would collaborate about the qualities they thought were vital in finding the new head of the volleyball program. The players added qualities they felt would make a lasting impression on this season and seasons after.
Senior Kendall Stern said that the team “wanted someone who treated everyone fairly and someone who would hold us accountable.” Luckily, Stern’s and other players’ ideas were heard, and administration was able to find a coach that fit their needs.
After weeks of meetings and collaborative efforts, Melanie Mercer was hired to coach the Timber Creek Varsity Volleyball team. Coach Mercer is entering her 7th year of teaching and coaching volleyball, after playing college volleyball at Cisco Junior College and University of Texas at Tyler.
“My expectations for our 2019 season is based upon our personnel this year and our depth in the years to come,” Mercer said. “It’s difficult to go through coaching changes as a player, but they have been willing to adapt and have welcomed me with open arms.” By mid August, the team had a winning record of 17-5.
“Our team is winning because they are working hard and together,” said Mercer. The team participated in the Mansfield and Allen High School Texas Open Tournaments, as well as winning Arlington Invitational Tournament. To create their winning streak and the team worked exceptionally well together on and off the court. Parents, players, coaches and fans are extremely proud of this record and it shows how the players’ hard work has paid off.
Leadership On and Off the Court
Coming into this season, seniors Sydney Sherlock and Malia Linton would be the only returning starters to the roster. With Sherlock and Linton’s achievement came responsibility. The players would have to lead their team to start back over, but this time, they came to win.
“It meant taking on leadership on and off the court,” Sherlock said. “It also meant becoming a bigger playmaker when my team gets down, they need to be able to rely on me to be the one to create change.”
Another way that makes the 2019 volleyball pre-season so different from previous seasons is what Coach Mercer calls the players’ “killer mentality.”
“We just go into every game with the mindset that we want to win and leave it all on the court more than anything,” Sherlock said.
The connection between the upperclassmen and underclassmen has also added value to the team’s winning streak. While other years the team has been run by seniority, this season has been an example of coherence and value between the classes. Upperclassmen and underclassmen have had to take on a new type of leadership to be able to win.
It’s no surprise that playing on varsity is a feat of itself; Sophomore Ava McCrary was on JV last year.
“I’ve had to learn how to adapt to the ways of a varsity team,” McCary said. “Varsity is a much faster, more competitive environment, therefore I’ve had to push myself to be the best player I can be.” With that being said, McCrary has always felt welcomed by the girls, and it comes from the way the team communicates and bonds. “The girls are super sweet and welcoming! They never fail to include me or make me feel like I’m an outsider, and I think that’s one of the reasons our team is so close.”
Throughout preseason and coming into season, TCVB has started organizing team dinners or lunches, as a way for the girls to bond. These team outings are hosted by each player, and are a great way for the girls to be able to get to know each other and create flawless chemistry and communication throughout the program.
Sophomore Megan Rosen was one of the first teammates to host this event.
“We’re doing a good job of working together as a team, and creating positive energy on and off the court,” Rosen said. “[Team dinners] have created more friendships and bonds between everyone. With myself being new to the team and others, we’ve quickly grown close.” While the girls bond in fun and unique ways, the team becomes more of a tight knit group and allows for great things to happen throughout the program.