by Jason Drake
Woodville's volleyball and football teams completed its first week of practice this past week. Coach Laura Willis thought the first week was great. "We have lots of participation in the program and the girls definitely stepped up to the challenge and survived the whole week of two-a-days workouts." Willis was impressed that the girls came in much better shape than last year. The freshman stepped up to the challenged even though they didn't know what to expect.
The Lady Eagles performed above expectations in the scrimmages. Woodville has five returning lettermen from last year that picked right up where they left off. Last season, the girls had trouble learning a new system and rotation. Woodville seems to be doing more fine tuning and working together. They were extremely successful against West Hardin, Shepherd, and Coldspring this weekend.
Individually, several of the Lady Eagles performed well in the scrimmages. Katie Watts and Shawnacy Williams are both taking on new roles as setters this year. Watts and Williams both made the necessary adjustments in the games. Freshmen Shelby Mixon and Gracin McCullum both started a little timid but performed well. They are learning their new roles and are adjusting to the speed of varsity volleyball. Libero, Mallory Watts had three excellent scrimmages on defense and reading the hitters.
Even though the Lady Eagles have three scrimmages under their belt, they are anxious and ready to play an actual game. Willis believes that the girls are prepared and ahead of where she thought they would be. "I have an excellent group that works hard, knows the game, and continue to ask questions to make themselves better."
The sub-varsity also performed well in the scrimmages. The freshmen seem to be well rounded and very athletic. The JV has a great group of sophomores and juniors working hard to get to the next level. The Lady Eagles will be hosting its annual varsity tournament Thursday and Saturday. Tuesday, Woodville will travel to Diboll to face the Lumberjacks. The freshmen will start at 4:30 p.m., followed by the JV at 5:30 p.m., and the varsity at 6:30 p.m.
Coach Jared Slaten thought the first week of practice went well overall. Slaten's goal is to establish a more up tempo, faster paced work ethic, and style of practice. The new pace became evident as the week progressed. The Eagles made noticeable strides in the way they were breaking the huddle, running the ball, and just finishing plays.
Slaten was pleased with the performance of several of the players. "We are breaking in a new quarterback in Marqui Jackson. He did a great job running the offense this week and seemed very comfortable in his new role. When the pads came on Friday, Riley Shaw had an outstanding day defensively. He was very aggressive and showed the coaches he was willing to play a physical style of football."
The Eagles held up well during the first day of contact. By the time Friday got here, the kids were ready to put the pads on and actually start doing some hitting. Many players expressed that the four days of just wearing a helmet gets kind of old. The first day of practice always bring a certain level of excitement.
With the extreme East Texas heat, the Eagles took several measures to keep its players safe and hydrated. The Eagles started practice early in the morning to help beat the heat. The training staff incorporated several breaks in practice and water bottles were available during every station. The coaching staff also pointed out how important it was to hydrate their bodies away from practice. The focus was to consume lots of water and sport drinks at home.
The incoming freshmen did great this week. Slaten mentioned that "at smaller schools, it can be tough on the freshmen, because they are always being asked to run the scout team which puts them up against older kids. We believe our freshman class is a pretty good group and they showed it this week."
Slaten continued, "Our season obviously didn't go the way we wanted last year and it looks like we have a group that is determined to right a lot of the things that went wrong. They understand that can't happen if they do not put the work in as well as change the way they do their work. So far we have had little trouble getting them motivated." The Eagles will travel to Huntington Friday to scrimmage the Red Devils and Hemphill.