Howard says things will be different at CCHS

Mar. 1—Rodney Howard isn't pulling any punches. The former assistant volleyball coach at Cumberland County High School truly believes the Lady Jets have the potential, the talent, the want-to, to be one of the better teams in the region next season.

He likes what he's seen during his time with the program. CCHS fans hope Howard is right on the money as Howard was named last week as the school's head volleyball coach.

"I didn't get to coach as much as I wanted to last year because my wife and I were building our house," said Howard, who is actively involved in travel volleyball in eastern Tennessee. "So, this year, I will get to be more involved, and I am excited about that."

And Howard hasn't wasted any time making his mark as the head guy. Players will be putting a lot of work in before they even step on the court.

"For the first time we're going to start conditioning and weight lifting," he said, "and then we're going to go right into the season in June when we have tryouts. It is going to be a lot different."

One thing that might make the transition from former head coach Roger Dixon to Howard simpler for the players is that Howard has been around the program for some time, and he's coached several of the CCHS players in travel ball.

"The transition for the girls should be easy," Howard said. "They didn't see the side of me being head coach because I haven't been the head coach. It is going to be a lot different, but I know most of the girls already, and I am going to be expecting lot of them."

Howard said he had to think about whether or not to accept the position because of time. He is out of Oak Ridge and he's going to have to commute back and forth. However, he said once he got the full support of his family, it was a done deal. He also has two daughter in high school that play volleyball, and another coming up through the ranks.

"Defensively, there will not be one ball our team doesn't think they can't get to," Howard said. "We're going to have the mindset we're going to be the best because we're going to put in the work. You're going to see people flying around all over the place, digging the ball with one hand.

"If you hit it on us, we're going to get it up and get it right back over. If you tip it on us, then we're going to tip it right back at you. I train a jumping technique. So, we may have some small girls, but they're going to be able to jump high. There will be a lot of excitement, a lot of intensity, and we're going to play at 100 miles per hour."

Howard said he hopes a lot of girls try out for next season's team. However, he said there are expectations.

"Every year is a clean slate," Howard said. "What I expect out of the girls is to give me 100 percent. If you don't give 100 percent, you won't play. I believe strongly about that. The girls will have their chance, and it is all up to them. I would suggest they come to everything we do, open gym, everything. I would also say do everything to be better."

Howard said his expectations for the team also include state championship. Falling short of that goal will be disappointed.