By Kevin Wilson
Sean Wootton started a new tradition following Monday’s Floyd volleyball practice, when he announced that players would eat lunch in his classroom every Wednesday.
One tradition down, a much bigger one to go.
“We’re trying to start a winning tradition,” said Wootton. “I know Floyd had some good teams in the late 80s, early 90s. We’re going to have to work to get back to that level.”
It’s a tall order for Wootton, a first-time volleyball coach, and the Lady Broncos, who won just two matches last season. Floyd didn’t lose any players due to graduation, and the Lady Broncos hope to build on a team that only has two seniors on this year’s roster.
Junior Noel Carpenter said that last year’s season is a bad memory, but her team has made positive strides towards ensuring that a repeat of 2002 doesn’t happen.
“This year we’ve worked a lot harder than last year,” Carpenter said, “and it’s going to get us somewhere.”
Wootton hopes that “somewhere” involves Floyd sneaking into the state tournament. The main goals for the team are a winning season and to survive the District 3-1A tournament — a regional matchup with a District 2 team would give any District 3 team a decent shot at state in Wootton’s mind.
The Lady Broncos open the season Thursday at Texico, where Wootton coached girls basketball last year. He hopes to make his first foray into volleyball a successful experience, so he’s been learning from clinics, friends in the business and assistant coach Jaytha Culpepper.
“I don’t know if it’s too early, but I already call her the assistant coach of the year,” Wootton said of Culpepper, who won two state volleyball titles at Portales High School. “She’s a big part of the team and she’ll be a big part of our success.”
Culpepper said the team has improved its defense since last year, but will need to improve its work ethic and mental focus to succeed in District 3-1A.
“They have been working hard,” Culpepper said, “but they have to get to the point where they’re working hard all of the time.”
Culpepper, a 2001 PHS graduate, hasn’t strayed far away from her former high school coaches. The main goals for the Lady Broncos — score off of the serve and score off of “freeballs” — are taken directly the goals Ruth Chavez set forth for the Lady Ram volleyball team.