A local teacher uses her love of volleyball to coach a winning volleyball team.
Shelby Bryant, a teacher’s assistant at Patrick Springs Primary School (PSPS), has been coaching the Mt. Airy High School’s girls’ volleyball team for the past two years.
“I was giving private lessons at the Rotary Building in Patrick County, and I had an ad posted on Facebook, and I had a bunch of friends share it. The principal at Mt. Airy reached out to me, and that’s how I went to Mt. Airy,” she said.
Under her tutelage, the team won the Northwest 1A Conference Volleyball Tournament Championship two years in a row. Last year, the team was third in its conference but won the tournament from third. This year, the team was co-season tournament champions, and won.
Bryant said the team moved on to North Carolina’s state championship but lost in the first round. “We were down a player, and everybody was moving positions due to an injury.”
Bryant said she decided to start coaching because her love for volleyball is “crazy. When I grew up, through high school and everything, that’s what I did.”
She played volleyball at Patrick County High School (PCHS) for four years on the junior varsity and varsity teams, and at Patrick & Henry Community College (P&HCC) for two years.
While at P&HCC, Bryant served as the team captain and was named the female player of the year both years.
“When I got done with school, I wasn’t ready to be done with it yet, so I did some private lessons and went straight to Mt. Airy,” she said.
Bryant believes everyone has that one thing they love, and volleyball is hers.
“I wanted to know everything I could about it. It didn’t matter what position I was playing, I wanted to know everything I could, and it was just something that just felt right, and I fell in love,” she said.
While some people may find the shift from playing to coaching a sport difficult, it was the exact opposite for Bryant.
“When I made that shift, I knew I had done the right thing,” she said. “A lot of people ask me ‘do you miss playing’ and I’m like, ‘No.’ I love teaching them about what I love. I get to grow their love for the sport through my love for it.”
She believes communication is the most important aspect of coaching.
“They don’t read my mind and I can’t read theirs. I like to allow them to learn themselves. I don’t always step in and say, ‘this is what needs to be done,’” she said.
By allowing her team to communicate amongst themselves, Bryant said she learns where they are as athletes, where they are with the sport, and how to better communicate with them overall.
Coaching has taught Bryant a lot about leadership, setting examples, and leading her team to be not only better players but all-around better people. A positive attitude and strong energy are also important as volleyball is a sport of momentum, she said.
“If I can contribute any bit of energy to that game that’s being played, it’s crazy,” she said. “So, if I have the most energy out there, they’re going to see that. I’m setting that example and they’re following it.”