The 2003-04 AHS Volleyball were the pioneers of today’s teams playing at the school. But the road to glory was far from easy for this group of ladies, as they went through trials and tribulations to bring a new sport to the school.
By Daniel Brunty The Choctaw Plaindealer
When it comes to girls sports in most small town Mississippi schools, the options are very limited. Besides softball and basketball, most female students only have the option to play soccer or run track. So it was a surprise when Ackerman High School offered the introduction of volleyball for the girls. With it being a nontraditional sport in this area, it was a challenge for the players and the school the first year of its inception. Current Choctaw County Career and Technology Principal Ronda Huffman, who was formerly the principal of AHS during the initial year of volleyball being introduced to the school, explained how it was chosen to be part of the sports family at the school. “Basically what I remember about starting girls’ volleyball is that we expanded to fast-pitch softball at the time,” said Huffman. “So we wanted a third option to offer our girls so they would have more of a variety to choose from. We had a new coach who had been hired who coached volleyball before and was interested in it. She helped us get the program started. Unfortunately, Coach (Susann) McWhorter left us after the first season. It was something for girls who particularly didn’t want to play softball could participate in and be successful.” Huffman spoke of other reasons the sport was decided upon. “Volleyball provided more opportunity for parent input because it was a small sport, making it easier to be involved in it.” The first Ackerman High School Volleyball team’s roster was Krista Joyner, Crystal Wise, Meredith Huffman, Tara Dewberry, Aimee Scribner, Cydney Dean, Lindsey Bowen, Ashley Childress, Cherish McClain, Lasandra Patton, Chassie Kelly, Candice Dempsey, Twonza Halbert, Shannarica Cork, Brandi Lee, Malorie King, Jade Murphy, and Stenvonda Halbert. Starting out, the volleyball team met many challenging obstacles during their inaugural season. The main obstacle the team faced was that the gym they had was not equipped at the time to play volleyball. “We had a nice new gym at the time , so we felt like that would enable us to use the facilities we already had,” said Huffman. “But at the time, it did not have the holes in the floor to put up the necessary equipment for volleyball. Our girls had to play every game that season away because of that fact. By the next season, though, we had equipped the gym with the necessary equipment.” Not only did they have to play on the road their first season, they also did not have volleyball uniforms at the time. “I remember our girls having to play in their basketball uniforms the first season,” said Huffman. Even with the team having its ups and downs during the first season, it paved the way for other girls that came through the school and played volleyball. The success that the AHS volleyball team has experienced since that first season is a testament to what these girls did and meant by being pioneers of a nontraditional sport in this area. “They have been really successful ,” said Huffman. “We have enjoyed having this additional sport at our school. And the parents and fans seem to as well.” The volleyball team has since seen its share of successes and failures, however, it has been a great experience overall for those who played and have came and gone from this nontraditional sport. So when you are watching the AHS Volleyball team next season, you can now look back and reflect on how it came to be at this small town school.