St. Aloysius starting up girls’ volleyball team for fall 2023 season

Published 11:00 am Sunday, February 19, 2023

The idea of starting a girls’ volleyball team at St. Aloysius has been floating around for years, but for one reason or another never seemed to gain traction.

The interest wasn’t quite there, or there wasn’t the right coach to lead it.

Finally, in one moment, everything clicked into place.

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The school announced recently that it will create a volleyball program from scratch this summer, with the intent of debuting for the 2023 season.

Nearly two dozen girls have signed up so far, and head coach Allison McSherry said she’s been encouraged not just by how many girls have shown interest, but which ones.

“I am so excited. I’m excited for the girls, because there are a lot of girls who have signed up on the list who have not played a sport. I’m excited to get them involved in a fun sport,” McSherry said. “I have a great co-coach. It’s going to be a lot of hurdles in the beginning, but I think in the end it’s going to be a fantastic thing.”

McSherry will be the team’s head coach and Danielle Bergeron the assistant, although McSherry refers to them as “co-coaches.” Their arrival at St. Al a couple of years ago seemed to be the catalyst to turn an abstract idea into reality.

Bergeron played volleyball at St. Patrick High School in Ocean Springs, as well as on an intramural level at Mississippi State. McSherry, who is also St. Al’s assistant athletics director, coached the sport on the youth level in Indiana and in the Central Mississippi area for more than a decade.

Together, the two brought knowledge and passion for the sport that should provide a good foundation of leadership for the fledgling program to get on its feet.

“We realized that there was some interest from the girls, and there was an opportunity from Ms. McSherry to step up and lead this program into the future,” St. Al athletic director Bubba Nettles said. “I could not be more excited as an athletic director to add another sport under our belt and another opportunity for our kids to get any type of exposure and move on to the next level.”

Another spark came from an unexpected place — a random intramural volleyball tournament that was part of Catholic Schools Week. St. Al’s students showed enough excitement over it, McSherry said, that it seemed like a good moment to take advantage of. Twenty-five players signed up in the first two days.

“People had tried to get it going before I even came here. They were the pavers of the path, and I’m so glad the administration said, ‘We’re ready. We need to go ahead and get this started now,’” McSherry said.

The MAIS volleyball season begins in August, and McSherry was not oblivious to the challenges faced by a start-up program. Besides competing for a limited number of bodies at a small school — the fall MAIS sports calendar also includes girls’ soccer, softball, cheerleading, swimming and cross country — McSherry and Bergeron will have to introduce the competitive and strategic aspects of a sport most of St. Al’s students have only goofed around with in gym class.

McSherry has coached a few of her players on club teams, but most have never played. She plans to hold clinics and camps over the next few months to familiarize them with basic skills and fundamentals.

“The sport is foreign. On the plus side, everybody is on the same playing level so they’re coming to me with no bad habits,” McSherry said. “But it’s probably going to take a little more time than most because it is such an intense sport. You move constantly through the game.”

McSherry was also hopeful that her players’ brains can help make up for a lack of skills.

“These girls are smart. We have a great math and science program, and that’s what volleyball is. It’s geometry, it’s angles, it’s force, it’s resistance. That aspect, I think, is going to help in teaching the game,” she said.

More than anything, the coaches and administration are happy to give St. Al’s girls another varsity sport to play.

“We’re very excited, and I’m just really pleased with the number of girls that put their names on the list. That shows they’re interested,” Bergeron said. “And looking at the names, it’s a lot of girls that didn’t necessarily have a sport. These girls that didn’t have a sport are now hopefully going to find something that they fall in love with.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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