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She's excited to coach volleyball. She hates the circumstances. Those two sentiments carry about equal weight in Tammy Arrington's mind right now. Arrington, who was a prior volleyball head coach and softball assistant at Chiefland, was recently tapped to succeed CHS volleyball head coach Emily Gore. Gore's teaching contract was one of those not renewed in this spring's round of budget cuts in the Levy County school district.
"I hate to see Emily go," Arrington says.
"I keep hoping a pot of money will fall out of the sky and she can come back. But I agreed to come in and help out in the transition."
Arrington and Gore worked closely together in the second year of Arrington's previous tenure as head coach, when Gore was coaching JV. They got along well, and shared the duties, with Gore focusing on X's and O's and Arrington heading up physical training responsibilities.
"I think there's more to playing than practicing and doing volleyball drills," she says.
"In a sport like volleyball, it's important to be confident, and when you're in shape and confident of your abilities, you'll be confident on the court."
Translation: girls, get ready to run. A lot.
Like Gore, Arrington is a big believer in practicing thoroughly, but not putting too much emphasis on scouting the other team.
"Like my dad used to say, no matter how good you are, there's always somebody better," she says.
"You have to bring your very best, but you have to play your game. Ultimately, the only thing you can control is how you practice."
Arrington readily admits she doesn't know as much about volleyball strategy as Gore, and she won't be making any big changes to the Lady Indians' game sets.
"I'm going to ask the girls what kind of offense they were playing, and we'll pretty much stick to that," she says.
Playing in the early days of Chiefland girls' varsity sports is both the reason Arrington doesn't feel up to date on game strategies and the reason she feels sports are so important for girls.
"My ninth grade year, Chiefland got their first volleyball team," she says.
"Six people tried out; six people made it. Girls only had one set of uniforms and we wore them for every sport."
Arrington said that first team played the straight rotation as taught in PE class, and noted that most players didn't know how to serve overhand.
"There was no hitting, no blocking - just serve the ball and send it back over," she says.
In the intervening years, volleyball has become much more sophisticated, athletic and enjoyable to watch and play. The rule change to rally scoring has made defense more important and improved the game, says Arrington.
"Our girls are lucky to play now, since the game has improved," she says.
This year, the transition between coaches comes suddenly, and Arrington isn't sure yet what activities she'll have for the summer. JV coach and varsity assistant Janelle Alexander will return, and Arrington is looking forward to working with her. The coaches will definitely hold open gyms, a key opportunity for them to watch players interacting.
"I like to see how people work together, to get a better idea what the chemistry will be like," Arrington says.
There will also be a camp, for middle school girls getting ready to move up.
"I've heard from my middle school girls already," Arrington says.
"They're concerned about not knowing what to do when it's time for them to move up."
They will learn - of that there is no doubt.