After 35 years coaching at public schools, and five years coaching at the club level, Deborah Boudoin took over the volleyball program at Faith Academy of Bellville for the 2020 season with the same laser focus on reaching the state tournament.
“State and that's what we're going to do; one game at a time, one point at a time,” Boudoin said of this year’s expectations.
The new coach was able to take advantage of some extra time with her new team after the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools delayed the beginning of the fall sports seasons by about a month in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“You hate to think of anything positive about this time but normally you have two practices and two scrimmages, and then you're jumping into the first game,” Boudoin said. “We've had time to incorporate the things that we need to incorporate, we totally changed the passing system that they use. We've had to find setters so it gave us time to develop setters which usually takes a couple years and we're doing it in a couple weeks. But the growth potential is tremendous.”
That growth will likely be seen over the next couple of years with only one senior, Tyler Johnston, and junior, Maddie Odom, on the 2020 roster although they both played major roles in constructing deep playoff runs for the Lady Knights.
“(Johnston is) probably going to play left side for us and she stepped up and has provided great leadership. She said she would like to learn to set and every time she comes to practice she's working and improving,” Boudoin said. “(Odom is) developing into our libero so we feel solid there and that's where we introduced our new passing system and they've really embraced it and picked up on it.”
Boudoin will be joined on staff by Brooke Borden, a current sophomore on the Blinn Junior College volleyball team who had her fall sports season postponed because of the pandemic.
“(Borden has) done a great job and she's a good libero. She's a good passer so that's the grunt work,” Boudoin said. “There's not always a whole lot of glory in passing and she's really sold that idea that ‘I'm the libero of Blinn, I'm the captain of Blinn.’ And that helps sell that to the girls that they see the importance of passing and our vision of what we want to do with the ball.”
Also serving on the welcoming committee and buying into the new coach’s program are sophomores Ella Polston, Chesney Johnston and Ary Castillo as well as freshmen Ally Sieja, Alyza Marcotte, Avery Faircloth and Reagan Shepherd.
“Chesney Johnston is a gifted athlete and can play every position well, Polston is a great jumper and with more confidence she will develop into a great attacker and Castillo is a hard worker and she’s developing her passing skill to become a defensive specialist,” Boudoin said of the sophomores.
“Faircloth will play some front row and serve, Marcotte has won a starting front row position, Shepherd is a good passer and will start at middle and Sieja will be a tall, strong block on our right side,” Boudoin said of the freshmen athletes who have made the transition easy for her.
“In your mind, you know what parts you're looking for when you go to a new school,” Boudoin said. “It's really been amazing how those pieces have fallen together. … Already you can see that they're accepting their role and they're going to be willing to work and go to any position you ask them. I haven't heard anyone say, ‘We'll I'm just a middle,’ they're willing to do whatever's best for the team.”
Boudoin said the quality of student-athletes at Faith Academy is right on par with what she had heard about after accepting the offer.
“They were so convincing on our kids are the best kids here and I can tell you that so far they have been,” the coach said.