Slade excited to be a part of the Pack

Published 11:06 am Friday, August 26, 2011

Washington’s first-year volleyball coach Kerry Slade looks on during the Pam Pack’s season-opening win over Northside. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

The struggles of the Washington volleyball team have been well documented over the last three years, but there’s reason to believe the program’s losing ways have been spiked.

First-year coach Kerry Slade took over the Pam Pack this season, and with her passion for the game, has instantly changed the culture of the Washington volleyball team.

“I love volleyball, I loved being a volleyball player. I lived in Wilmington for 13 years and played a lot of beach volleyball, I played for two or three teams a week and it was just fun,” Slade said. “Volleyball makes me happy. It makes me happy when I play and it makes me happy when I coach it. I would like to be able to pass skills along to the girls and we can have some fun and learn some stuff.”

Though the skills have been there, the fun hasn’t always been associated with the team as it won only one game during previous coach Tara Hunter’s tenure.

Despite taking over the team only about a week before the season started, Slade won her debut, topping her alma-matter Northside to instantly take the monkey off her and the team’s back.

Though Washington has lost four straight since then, they are playing more aggressively than in years past and seem to have more of a fighting spirit.

Slade, who coached volleyball and softball at Brunswick Middle School before doing the same at P.S. Jones with her sister Kristen, knows the team history but said she was not deterred by it.

“I’ve been given a fantastic opportunity. It was something that I got excited about, and I’m really excited to be here,” Slade said. “I really want to work hard and work with the girls and give these girls something that hadn’t had in the last three years. I’m excited that I have a group of girls that are willing to work hard for me.”

The first step in navigating a team towards success is providing the coordinates, something Slade did as soon as she took over.

“My plan to turn this team around is to set goals. The first day after tryouts I sat with each of girl and we discussed our goals as a team, which would be winning and getting better. Then, we discussed our individual goals, our strengths and our weaknesses. I truly feel that they didn’t have any goals in the past and that showed in their seasons. Now that we have set some goals, it’s apparent that setting the goals is helping. I came in with the attitude that we’re going to win some games this season.”

Slade said she has been fortunate to have players who are willing to lead the team towards those goals.

“Robin Lilley and Lacie Anglim have really stepped up. Lacie is our setter, our quarterback of the team and she’s out there calling plays and leading them,” Slade said. “Justyce McKissick has also stepped up in a leadership role, she’s stepping up her play on the court and setting a good example.”

Together, they all strive towards success.

“The goals that we set for the team is to have a winning season, we want to win more games than we lose,” Slade said. “Fifth place or higher (in the Coastal Conference) is eligible to go to the state playoffs, so that’s another goal that we set. Granted, we’re going to take it one game at a time, but I want everyone to be a better volleyball player by the end of the season and I want our team to be a better team than they are now.”