October 9, 2009 9:14:00 AM
Senior leadership is particularly valuable when you''re not sure if your team is going to have a coach.
That''s the situation seniors Erin Williams, Caitlin Osterman, Kathryn Scarbrough, Sarah Simpson, Heather Wells, and newcomer Nicky Croft faced in August as they faced the start of another season.
The seniors did their best to keep everyone working and focused on the start of the season until Dale Latham was chosen as a volunteer coach to replace David Johnson.
The preseason work coupled with timely leadership during the season paid off for the Lady Eagles.
Victory Christian (8-6) will take on Flint Hill at 4 p.m. today at the Alabama Christian Education Athletic Association State tournament at Florence Christian Academy in Florence, Ala.
Victory Christian secured a spot in the double-elimination state tournament by finishing second in its region.
Last year, the Lady Eagles went 0-2 at the event. This year, the players hope to stay a little longer, even though their first match is against the tournament''s top seed.
"I think we have had a really good season with all of the new stuff that has been happening," said Williams, one of five returning starters from last season. "We did start slow but we kicked back into things and really pulled together to realize our goal of making it to the state tournament again this year."
Williams said Latham didn''t join the program until a week before the season. Up to that point, she said the seniors did their best to organize practices in the offseason so the players were sharp for the start of the preseason.
She said the players also explained to Latham what they knew to ease his transition to the program.
Scarbrough admits the uncertainty at the beginning of the season left her a little skeptical about how the team would fare this season. But she said the players stuck together and worked well as a team and have "really clicked."
"We can read each others'' minds and know what the other person is going to do, so we can play really well," Scarbrough said. "It is like we are all on the same page or wavelength."
Latham said the players deserve all of the credit. He praised the work of the seniors and said the contributions of Ashley Canida, Alyka Hamm, Sarah Lytle, Kayla Taylor, and Abby Thomas have been key to help the team realize its goal of returning to the state tournament.
Williams is anxious to see how the Lady Eagles will do today as they hope to extend their season.
"It is very satisfying to make it to the state tournament again because at the start of the season we didn''t know if we would get a new coach," Williams said. "It was a bit of a scare, but we won all of the games we needed to and we''re really, really excited that we''re going to state this year. I hope it can happen every year after this one and that we make it further in state this year, too."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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