First-year Kilgore High School volleyball coach Madeline Harris might be new to the halls at KHS, but she’s definitely not a volleyball rookie.
The new leader of the Lady Bulldogs is a former Oklahoma Sooner, a seasoned coaching veteran and one who has plans to take Kilgore volleyball to the next level.
Harris, a Marshall native and a former University of Oklahoma standout, accepted the position of head volleyball coach just a few weeks ago after the departure of four-year coach Lacy Coldiron. The Lady Bulldogs have tryouts next week, and Harris says they’ll be ready for the fast-approaching season.
“We’ve done a little bit,” she said. “It’s been summer, kind of hit and miss. I’ve seen the core of the team play, and where they are. I’m excited about what I think they’re going to accomplish this year, once we kind of tweak some things. They’re going to be OK.”
Harris isn’t really building from the ground-up, as many previous Kilgore volleyball coaches have had to do. Coldiron’s teams were able to have some success – they managed to make the University Interscholastic League’s Class 4A playoffs in three of her four seasons.
And there are several key personnel returning: Lauren Bryant, Dayton McElyea, Jada Abercrombie, Miah Thomas, Skyler Day and sophomore Ashton Vallery, just to name a few.
Kilgore seems to be in good hands with Harris, a 20-year coaching veteran who has had stops at her alma mater, Marshall, as well as at Chapel Hill, Denton, Longview and Wiley College. She was once a district best hitter in high school, a former three-time regional qualifier in track, and was an outside hitter for the Sooners.
Harris is also the coach of the Arsenal volleyball club in Longview.
And she won’t be the only new kid on the block as far as coaches in the district, either. Kilgore will again compete in District 16-4A, alongside Bullard, Cumberland Academy, Gilmer, Henderson, Spring Hill and Chapel Hill, and half the district – Kilgore, Chapel Hill, Henderson and Spring Hill – will have new coaches.
Kilgore’s season has quick prep time. The Lady Bulldogs will compete in Henderson’s annual play day next Saturday at Henderson Middle School, and then they’ll officially open the 2019 season at home against Nacogdoches on Tuesday night, Aug. 6, starting with a junior varsity game at 5 p.m., varsity to follow.
They’re also home the following Tuesday against John Tyler.
Tournament stops have Kilgore going to Garland, Troup, Brownsboro, Nac, and Athens, and the district schedule will start on Tuesday night, Sept. 17, with a road game at Henderson.
Kilgore does face former coach Coldiron on Sept. 3, in a game at Pine Tree.
Assisting Harris this year will be coaches Trushundra McGill (JV) and Cheyenne Kirkpatrick (freshmen).