Holton alum set to take charge of Jackson Heights volleyball
One former Wildcat is getting set to take her chances in the Cobra pit as HHS alumnus Kaylee Mick (’11) recently accepted the head volleyball coaching position at Jackson Heights High School.
Growing up with a fondness for both volleyball and softball and seeing how the sports could shape young athletes, Mick said the opportunity to coach was always enticing and getting the chance to work as an assistant coach with the JHHS volleyball team last fall only drew her in more.
“With last year with all of them, it was really fun to watch them grow and see how much they had adapted and learned just in those three months and knowing what they’re capable of,” Mick said.
In addition, Mick was an assistant coach with the Holton softball team this past spring, a sport she played collegiately at Cloud County Community College. Now, on top of taking charge of the Cobras volleyball program, Mick will also be taking classes at Washburn University this fall while majoring in special education.
While the young coach will have a lot on her plate, Mick noted the summer volleyball league experience is something she believes will help her, and her players, in the fall.
“I think it’ll be okay. I think everybody’s really flexible with everything,” Mick said. “Just with summer league and having practices, everybody’s always busy, but you just have to make time for it. As long as they believe in my philosophy, I think that we’ll be okay.”
“It’s not just about one person. It takes everybody and you have to have great teamwork and leadership on and off the court to get you to where you need to be,” Mick added, regarding her philosophy.
Summer league has been a bit of an adjustment, but that is to be expected with a new coach. After some initial nerves dissipated, Mick said the team realized what they were capable of that first night of competition.
The second week brought some tough challenges, facing 4A Jackson County opponents Holton and Royal Valley, but even that was a good experience for the team.
Facing Mick’s alma mater, the Cobras had a rough first set before closing out strong in a tough loss to the Wildcats. While that match might not have gone Heights’ way, Mick said it could still benefit the team in the long run.
“They get more practice and see what they can do,” Mick said of the summer experience. “We’re playing a lot of 4A schools when we’re only a 2A school, so they get to see a lot of other schools and that’s just going to help them whenever it comes time to play 2A schools.”
After the summer league, the Cobras will continue to try and push forward with a team camp scheduled for July 13 to 17.
Being an assistant coach in two sports this past school year is something that opened Mick’s eyes to the dichotomy of coaching. She said she saw how much responsibility and leadership it takes to manage these young, student-athletes and also how crucial their will is to the results on the court as well as her own.
So, while the new JHHS volleyball coach wants her team to have fun while trying to win, improve and put forth its best effort, Mick also knows there has to be some self-motivation there and she will be looking for that from her team over the summer and into the course of the official high school season in the fall.
“You can help them prepare and everything, but when it comes down to it it’s up to them and what they want to do,” Mick said. “I hope that we have a great season and that it’s everything that we all hope it to be.”