By James Robinson
Empire Press Correspondent
Heather Hughes took the reins as head volleyball coach of the Waterville/Mansfield Shockers this season after being the assistant coach last year.
Hughes took the girls to five volleyball tournaments over the summer. “These tournaments give the girls experience with other types of play and various levels of… players,” she said.
Hughes has been a volleyball coach for nine years, track and field coach for four years, and has coached girl’s basketball. Hughes teaches a third and fourth grade combination class in Mansfield. She is also the middle school’s head track coach. Her daughter Hannah, a sophomore, is on the Shocker varsity team. She also has two younger daughters and her husband Mike is a special education teacher in Mansfield.
Hughes attended Whitworth University in Spokane where she competed in the heptathlon — a seven-event athletic competition. She was ranked 16th in the nation.
Hughes said about the varsity Shockers volleyball team, “Each girl is learning to play each spot on the court and to play both offense and defense. They are a young and a very athletic team. But, athleticism is not the only thing that is important. Volleyball competition is also a mental game. The girls need to stay focused on the game, build up each other, never giving up.”
Hughes enjoys getting to know the students and working with them, helping them to build confidence in themselves. The coaches often referred to this year’s team as being young. That comes because last year the Shockers had seven seniors and the team did extremely well and competed in the state tournament. At the Cashmere tournament, they won the consolation bracket.
Hughes also commented on Waterville and Mansfield schools combining their students for sports. “It seems to be working well for the schools and it is good for the kids to get to know students from another community,” she said.
Shae Parker has worked with Hughes as assistant coach. This was Parker’s first year coaching volleyball. She was involved in “club teams” high school volleyball within the Davenport-area schools.
She moved back to Waterville from North Dakota. Her husband is a construction lineman.
Parker said about the varsity and junior varsity, “Great, awesome girls who work hard and are getting better.” She also said, “The girls are constantly showing improvement. And, I am looking forward to all the volleyball seasons to come.”