With its intercollegiate fall season postponed and shifted into a shortened slate to be played out in the spring of 2021, the Southern Arkansas Women’s Volleyball program, like many programs around the country, found itself with a little extra time on their hands as well as a longing for the competition that they are accustomed to during the fall season. However, it wouldn’t be long before head coach Lindsey Parks’ squad began to give the game of volleyball back to the Magnolia community.
“To see our volleyball team’s commitment to growing the sport of volleyball in Magnolia was remarkable,” noted SAU Director of Athletics Steve Browning. “Their engagement, from coaching, to encouraging, to just being a smiling face to those young ladies created memories that will last a lifetime. The mark they made on volleyball at the Boys and Girls Club of Magnolia will carry on for years to come.”
“We needed four volunteers for the four teams and when I first asked in our group text to see if anyone was interested, I was honestly expecting only a few people and thought that [Graduate Assistant Volleyball Coach] Bree Davis and I would probably end up coaching a team or two,” Parks stated. “In only ten minutes I had nine volunteers, and others who were in class at the time were somewhat upset they missed the initial opportunity.”
Eleven of Parks’ 16 players volunteered their time at one point or another at the Magnolia B&GC this past fall scheduling their own practices, coaching in the weekly games, and most importantly being a positive influence on the young girls in grades 1st through 6th.
“Our young ladies were completely in control of that schedule. They had practice at random times, one of them on Saturday mornings. What college student voluntarily gives up their Saturday mornings without being asked?” questioned Parks. She answered, “The kind that love giving back to the future generation. It warmed my heart every time I heard them talking about their teams, and I am so thankful they were able to give back in this small way.”
Some would contend with Parks that it was far from small in the way in which her team gave back to the local community. Chris Ludwig, Magnolia B&GC Director of Sports and Facilities and proud Mulerider supporter, witnessed firsthand the impact the Muleriders had on the league.
“When the SAU Volleyball Team agreed to coach our fall league this past year we were beyond excited,” noted Ludwig. “We knew they would bring the ability to teach valuable skills to the girls going forward; however, we couldn’t have ever imagined the passion and the drive that they brought out as well.”
Ludwig praised the team for instilling a new love for the game of volleyball in players that had never played before, while also preparing the older, more experienced players with tools to help them expand their game.
He added, “It was rewarding for me to see girls come to love the game and improve throughout the season, but also to see the parents’ excitement grow during the season as they watched the games being played. We can’t thank Coach Parks enough for allowing the team to be involved and are hoping we can continue their involvement in our B&GC volleyball program.”
“My biggest takeaway from the whole experience is definitely a refreshed perspective! Working with girls who are brand new to the game reminded me of all of the reasons that I fell in love with this game so many years ago. It’s so easy to get caught up in the intricacies and competitiveness of high-level volleyball, and it was really nice to kind of reset and remember all of the things that built me and got me to this point!”
Truli Bates | Freshman – Social Studies Education w/ Coaching Endorsement | Bryant, Arkansas
“Being fresh out of high school, I was constantly playing volleyball. Between school and travel ball I was always on a court and with the season being postponed, I felt confused as to how to spend a majority of my time. Thankfully we were able to stay involved through coaching – it kept my craving for competition in check. I love watching the game grow whether it be in my team or the younger generation. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.”