Photo by Andrew Ottoson
Prairie’s 2017 volleyball squad features a strong group including Jordyn Higgins, Sydney Bruner, Angela Wemhoff, Josie Peery, Leah Higgins, Madison Pecarovich and Krystyna Krogh under first-year head coach Julie Schumacher.
As of Thursday, August 31, 2017
This fall, coaching changes are a big part of what several local teams are facing, and the Prairie volleyball team is no exception.
But it won’t be a jarring transition in Cottonwood.
Former Summit head coach Julie Schumacher has been around Pirate sports for years and is familiar with the athletes on both the volleyball and basketball courts.
“A lot has happened since we transferred over from Summit,” she said. “My two girls were playing volleyball, so when we came over, I volunteered as the ‘C’ coach under Cheyenne (Hudson). And I was really excited about that because when I was coaching at Summit I really felt like I didn’t know what I was doing. But they had no one else to coach at that time, so I did. Working under Cheyenne was a great opportunity to get in and learn, and I did pick up some new tricks and new ideas. But I think I just doubted myself too much, because part of what I found out was, they weren’t doing a whole lot different than what I was doing.”
Schumacher’s older girls graduated, and she moved on.
“I just had boys in the system, and I quit coaching anything for a while,” she said. “I was just teaching. Then the JV basketball position came open. So I did that for a couple years. During the season last year, the junior high volleyball position came open and they didn’t have a whole lot of people interested in it. So I talked to [head girls basketball coach] Lori Mader. I asked her advice. I knew she had another assistant, so I knew she would still have him if I bowed out at the end of JV basketball toward the end of the season. Then the head volleyball job came open. And I thought, doesn’t that work out great? I love coaching with Marlene [Forsmann].”
She saw little high school volleyball during the shuffle.
“Before I even met with the girls, I asked Marlene, are we going to be good? Because I didn’t know,” Schumacher said. “After that, I thought, we’ll be OK. Then, when we did open gyms this summer, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought: These girls know what they’re doing!”
Prairie attended a camp at the beginning of June and the players again impressed their new coach.
“As far as the other towns, I know Troy is always good, and Genesee is always at the top,” she said. “I just don’t know if we are there. I just don’t think you can ever discredit a team. You worry about everyone until you get in the gym and play them.”
Seven returners form Prairie’s core this fall.
“Madison Pecarovich and Krystyna Krogh are really strong setters,” Schumacher said. “They’ve been here doing their thing for a while, so they’ll step right in.”
In the middle, Schumacher has Leah Higgins.
“Leah is real good there,” she said. “And then we have a handful of hitters that make it hard to decide on a starting six.”
They’re all good and all “pretty even,” Schumacher said. “One doesn’t obviously dominate.”
Angela Wemhoff returns. Teresa Wemhoff steps up from playing JV last year, and Jordyn Higgins, who promoted to varsity toward the end of last season, is also in the mix for one of those outside hitter spots.
“When I have six on the floor this year, I’m going to look at my bench and be like ‘I’m sorry!’ because I have more hitters than I can have all in the game at the same time.”
The Pirates opened their season with a win at Kamiah on Aug. 24, which involved a big night serving by Sydney Bruner. They are scheduled to play at home Aug. 31 against Troy.
“I was so nervous before our first practice,” she said. “My husband was like, ‘You’re nervous about practice?’ and yes, because now it all falls on me. When you’re a JV coach, you don’t have to worry about anything. Now it’s just getting these first games out of the way and moving on.”
Aug. 24 at Kamiah
Aug. 29 vs. Genesee
Aug. 31 vs. Troy
Sept. 5 vs. Potlatch
Sept. 7 at Lapwai
Sept. 12 at CV
Sept. 14 at Orofino
Sept. 16 Grangeville Tourney
Sept. 21 at Genesee
Sept. 23 at Border Battle Tournament
Sept. 26 vs. Lapwai
Sept. 28 at Troy
Oct. 3 vs CV w/Orofino
Oct. 5 at Grangeville
Oct. 10 at Potlatch
Oct. 12 vs. Kamiah w/Grangeville