Mill Valley coach’s intensity is transferred to players
Ask any of the girls on the Mill Valley High School volleyball team, and they’ll say coach Debbie Fay is intense.
She expects hard work but knows it will pay off in the end. She always wants to keep it fun because she says it’s too difficult if it isn’t fun.
“I want them to understand there’s nothing wrong with hard work,” Fay said. “It makes you better, and when you’re better it makes you excited because your teammates are better. That’s the whole concept. It’s a snowball effect we’re trying to teach her. It doesn’t happen overnight. The kids that have been here a while, they get it now. The young kids coming in hear about it. We opened their eyes at camp this week. ‘Oh, my gosh, she means business.' It’s all about the approach. You still have to be firm, but you better hug them when they leave so they come back.”
This season will mark the third for Fay at Mill Valley and the first for the Jaguars in the Eastern Kansas League.
Junior Abby Archibong, who has been in the program as long as Fay has, said Fay has honed her attitude toward the game, and it showed on Thursday morning when Archibong played middle hitter for nearly two hours straight. She didn’t complain and always had a smile on her face.
“I love the game, and I like working hard for it,” Archibong said.
It’s that attitude that Fay is trying to mold. Archibong said she thinks her coach expects her to be a leader, which is true as Fay said every class needs to start developing some so there are leaders on the floor at all times.
Archibong is part of the process as the players that have been with Fay for two and three years now understand her philosophy.
Fay understands it’s going to take time for every single player from a senior down to the middle school level to buy in and trust what Fay is doing.
Part of that goal is to start tradition and establish continuity. When Fay moved from Park Hill to Park Hill South, she brought two of her players because the district split, but she had some of that hard-work mindset come with her.
However, the community understood Fay’s philosophy because the tradition was already established.
“If you stay long enough then the kids will feed off your passion,” Fay said. “The staff is the same four we had last year. That’s wonderful because they start understanding and you’re doing the same thing at all four levels.”
Maggie Bogart, who is one of three seniors on this team, said she’s seen the transformation of the program since Fay took over after her freshman season.
Bogart said everybody knows when they come into the program they have to work hard, and she said they’ve been successful with that.
The hard work will hopefully pay dividends in the EKL as their schedule becomes more difficult.
“Losing to an EKL team (to end our season), I think that will help us going into the season,” Bogart said. “We don’t want to be the lowest team in the EKL.”
Fay said a few tough losses to end the season last year helped establish a bulldog mentality.
She wants Mill Valley to be recognized as a volleyball contender year after year.
“I want people to go, ‘Oh, yeah. They’re good at volleyball,’” Fay said. “Year after year I want us to be successful. Will we be the same every year, always getting better? I depends on what comes through, but that’s what I want our community to have. I want our kids to come through our schools knowing they’re going to be taught the right way, they’re going to work hard. For the kids that are passionate about it, I want them to be able to go through her four years and maybe continue playing it if they want.”