Manchester High School alumna Tabitha Spires takes over the reigns of a Greyhound volleyball team looking to rely on their senior leadership to propel them through the Southern Hills Conference.
The team boasts five seniors this upcoming season – Morgan Johnson, Summer Wilbur, Cassidy Spires, Kayla Wagoner and McKayla Smith. With them, along with the supporting underclassmen, Spires hopes to see good things her first year on the sidelines.
After graduation, Spires attended the University of Cincinnati Clermont campus where she played basketball. From there she graduated from Southern State with an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education.
Besides being a graduate from MHS in 2003, Spires is no stranger to the athletic programs at the school. She’s also a coach for the girls basketball program and coaches softball as well. Spires says she’s worked with many of the girls on her volleyball team in those sports, which has helped her discover what type of team she has this season.
“I know basically all the seniors,” Spires said. “Two of them played basketball for me so I know them and how they work. I recently just started back at Manchester last year and started coaching JV basketball last year. And I did softball last year with some of the girls so I know who the leaders are on this team.”
Spires also coached junior high volleyball a year ago, meaning she’s familiar with her incoming freshmen class – a skill worth having since the one area the senior class can’t fill on the court is a setter.
“We do need to find a setter,” Spires said. “There’s a couple of freshmen trying to fill that void.”
And that knowledge of the young talent in the program could serve Spires and the Greyhounds well when the five seniors leave after this year.
“[The young talent] excites me very much because we have a good group of young kids who I’ll be able to utilize once those five seniors graduate after this year,” Spires said.
The transition as a first year coach was smooth as well from a coaching standpoint. Spires has been able to talk to Mark Johnson, who’s been with the program for four years, to get filled in on the skill levels of the team.
“I went to Mark a lot because he did a camp with the girls this summer,” Spires said. “Shawnee State comes here and we do a camp during the summer and he helped fill me in on that. Then we went to Shawnee and played in a camp and he filled me in on that as well. He really let me know who does what and where the girls fit on the team.”
Spires expects the team to compete in the Southern Hills Conference this year with a senior class that fills in nearly all the areas of the court.
“We have excellent servers, a few power hitters and we have hustle,” Spires said. “They’re go-getters. I have a lot of talented team-like players. Everyone’s for the team, there’s no egos here.”
And having seniors on the court who have experience doesn’t hurt the new coach either.
“These seniors help take control,” Spires said. “Morgan is like the leader out there. They know their roles, they know their jobs and what they’re supposed to do.”
Senior McKayla Smith said Spires is totally dedicated to her new team.
“She’s a great coach, very determined and always pushing us as a team to do better,” Smith said. “She coached junior high volleyball last year so she has experience in volleyball coaching. She dedicates all her time to us from practices to working car washes to raising money for our volleyball team.”