When starting up a new team, there is always the fear of failure and falling deep behind the competition as you’re essentially bringing a group of strangers together and asking them to perform on the same level as other already established teams.
The same kind of fear must have been going through the minds of the Las Positas College Athletics Department when they decided that they will be bringing a volleyball program on board for the fall season.
For LPC though, losing is far from what the brand-new team has been producing as the freshly formed women’s volleyball team has been winning from day one.
The key to the expansion or creation of a team, is being able to hire a reliable coach that will be able to put all the new pieces together. Then, identifying your star player that will put the team on their shoulders and lead the team by example from the get go.
The Hawks were able to do so by hiring Coach Tracee Byrd and recruiting heavy armed offensive hitter Taylor Cruz during the open try outs in late July.
By recruiting Byrd, a NorCal Volleyball Club coach, the Hawks get a seasoned coach with over ten years of experience and also a background in teaching which guarantees a high level of communication which in turn will help the players settle in quicker and put them in a position to be successful.
Byrd explained how much communication matters in her coaching and also what she expects from the players.
“I am a teacher by trade and I believe in the explaining the ‘why’ behind everything I ask of my athletes. I encourage them to ask questions and stay curious, and want them to learn the game well enough to teach it to themselves,” Byrd explained. “And above all, I want them to embrace and practice the concepts of honor, kindness and discipline,” Byrd added.
The well spoken, experienced and disciplined coach in Byrd who is a continuous student of the game has looked like a great choice to lead this new team to success.
On the other side of the coin, freshman Taylor Cruz, an offensive hitter out of Foothill High School has established herself as a leader on and off the floor through her outstanding performances since the beginning of the season.
When asked about her leadership role early on Cruz explained that being a good leader for this team is one of her goals that she has set for this season.
“My goals are to push myself to get better every time I step on the court and to be a great leader by working hard, having positive energy and encouraging my teammates,” Cruz said.
Cruz is off to a flying start as she ranks fourth in the state in points and kills per set and second in digs per set in the California Community College Athletic Association rankings.
Cruz’s strong start to the season has been a major factor behind the Lady Hawks early success but Cruz admits that the beginnings were challenging and credits the coaching staff and her teammates for being able to come together and produce good results.
“Despite the fact that we only had two weeks of practice before our first match, Coach Byrd and Coach Resnik were able to help us find our confidence and a place on the team where we can execute our individual strengths and contribute to the team. Also, our mutual love for volleyball is what drove us to the successful start of the season before we were able to bond on and off the court and become stronger and even more competitive as a team,” Cruz explained.
Evidently, the only way is up for the Lady Hawks as they were able to create chemistry and find cohesion very quickly and way before the season gets into crunch time. When asked about the team’s goals after such a hot start, Cruz was looking at this season and beyond as the team looks to establish a winning culture for years to come.
“Our goal is to break the stereotype of being a first-year program and to show others that we have something to prove. We also want to set a standard for the upcoming Las Positas College teams with our work ethic and positive attitudes,” Cruz said.
With players like Cruz representing the school colors, Hawks fans can rest assured that volleyball success is coming sooner rather than later, as by putting together a team of hungry, talented players with a chip on their shoulder.
Coach Byrd has assembled a squad that is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Community College volleyball world.