High School Volleyball

Walker takes reins of successful Lady Vikings program

by Doug Gorman


Kalie Whiddon sets the ball for a teammate as Northgate assistant Mary Grace McCord looks on during volleyball practice at Northgate this week. McCord is assisting new head coach Sheila Walker, who moves into the gym after working with the Lady Vikings’ successful softball program. 

There's been a changing of the guard with the Northgate volleyball program.

After leading the Lady Vikings to the Class AAAAA Final Four last season, longtime head coach Matt Trucks relinquished those duties, which have now been turned over to Sheila Walker.

Walker moves over from her tenure as an assistant coach with the school's highly successful softball program.

The Lady Vikings won a softball title four seasons ago a nd played for the championship last year, so Walker knows all about being part of winning programs.

She admits she is going to miss being around the diamond, but hopes she can continue the success Trucks established over the years on the volleyball court.

'It was hard giving up the softball coaching,' she said. 'The seniors were just freshman when I started here. They were my babies, but I am excited to get things started with the volleyball team.'

The good news for Walker is the volleyball cupboard isn't totally bare at Northgate.

Five seniors are back, hoping for one last run at the state title after falling short in 2013 when eventual state champion McIntosh knocked them out in the Final Four. They include setter Kalie Whiddon, libero MacKenzie Crenshaw, outside hitter Lexi Rose, right side hitter Danielle Early and middle hitter Brenda Robinson.

Along with the group of upperclassmen are four juniors led by All-County honorees Savannah Moore and Taylor Bigler, each of whom could be a key piece to success this fall.

Moore earned 2013 Newnan Times Herald All-County First Team honors with 200 kills and 97 ½ blocks, while Bigler was selected to the Third Team after posting 461 assists at the setter spot.

Juniors Taylor Richard and Katie Stanton have also caught the coach's eye during the early practice sessions.

'Leadership is great,' she said. 'These returning seniors have stepped in and done a wonderful job getting us ready for the season. They have really helped me.'

Walker admits there are things she has to learn about the the game, but she has some knowledge of volleyball from her playing days in high school and at the junior college level.

'It's not like I don't have a volleyball background,' she said. 'I played in high school and I played in college. I have a great coaching staff helping out. We should be fine.'

Mary Grace McCord, whose daughter Elle, played for Trucks and is now is getting ready for her sophomore season at Georgia, and Kevin Jeffers join Walker on the coaching staff.

'It's wonderful to have people coming back that have been around the program,' she said.'When they first told me I was going to have to coach the volleyball team, my first reaction was, it's been so long since I have been around the game. Then I came out here and met the girls and they have helped me tremendously. We are going over some new things I am not totally familiar with. The thing about this group, is they are coachable.'

Northgate opens with a scrimmage Thursday against Eagle's Landing Christian, a Class A state champion in 2012. The season opener officially opens on Aug. 12 against Carrollton.

The team will also find out plenty about itself when it participates in the Sequoyah Tournament August 15-16.

Northgate will also host this year's Coweta County Championships on Sept. 11.

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