While she’s headed into her first season as the varsity coach, Holly Birdsong is no stranger to the Seymour volleyball program.
Birdsong spent the past five years as the head coach of the junior varsity squad, and will now lead the Owls’ top team.
“I think it’s an advantage that I know a lot of the younger girls, and now get to coach some of the girls that are on varsity,” Birdsong said.
“There are a lot of girls who can play several positions. Now that we have five seniors and a handful of juniors on varsity we can rotate girls in and out at different positions if someone isn’t performing. We haven’t missed a beat.”
For Birdsong, staying with the program wasn’t an easy feat for a time after having a baby.
“I had really thought about (being the varsity coach) last year, but the current JV coach (Anna Hochstedler) and I both had babies the year before and it would have been our first year with them,” Birdsong said. “We were going to go down to the middle school and coach but decided last minute to help Kendra (Knieriem, the 2014 varsity coach).”
“When I thought about stepping down last season it wasn’t because of anything to do with the team, I was just going to spend more time home with that season with my daughter being so little. The girls wanted us to come back, and I have no problem joining them.”
The Owls graduated three seniors last season, and have high hopes for the 2015 campaign.
In the offseason, the Owls have worked on becoming a grittier team.
“I think the girls have high expectations of playing hard,” Birdsong said. “We’ve done a lot of pursuit in practice: going for everything, swinging hard at the ball, making good choices. We have a lot of girls that have played in the offseason who’ve gone against higher competition and are trying to bring that back to our team.”
Birdsong said that may of the girls spent their summer playing on travel teams on top of working with the high school team.
“I think we did a lot more things this past summer to get the girls prepared for the season,” she said. “We went to a camp, hosted a camp in Seymour and participated in a league in Indianapolis where we saw a lot of teams that we don’t normally face during the season.”
This year’s roster will have more flexibility with a number of players that can play different positions.
“We have Chandler (Clark) coming back to help lead our team as a setter,” Birdsong said. “Hannah Sipe is coming in and will also play setter which will allow Chandler to get more hitting in. I think we’re pretty tall this year compared to the past. It’s really going to help us at the net.”
The Owls start their season on the road at Bloomington North on August 27. Just three of the Owls’ first 10 games are at home.