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We can be proud of IHS, JHS volleyball

Chilton County has had some successful athletic teams over the years. Not a particularly large county with not a particularly large population, though, there hasn’t been much sustained success by any team in any sport.

Except volleyball, which is strange because volleyball is probably the county’s least played and least popular sport. Only four of the six schools field teams, and attendance at matches is often poor.

In the face of those obstacles, though, two schools—Isabella and Jemison—have won in the sport like few other county programs, regardless of sport, have.

The Panthers on Saturday won their fifth county volleyball tournament championship in seven tries since the tournament was renewed in 2003 after a hiatus. The Mustangs lost in the championship, but, undeterred, won their 12th consecutive area championship on Monday.

Lots of talented and drive athletes have been through Jemison and Isabella to help make these programs what they have been, but the common denominators have been the two coaches: Glen Graham at Isabella and Leighsa Robinson at Jemison.

Even toiling in an underappreciated sport, these two coaches have as high a level of commitment as any other coach I’ve been around.

And commitment is what they demand from their players. Whether it’s Isabella practicing at midnight on the first day practices are allowed or Robinson commanding her players to do push-ups because they were sloppy in warming up for a match, these two coaches only work with players who are willing to give everything they have in an effort to improve.

Because of that, Graham and Robinson are able to take players that might not be the most athletically gifted and turn them into successful volleyball players.

The kind of players that allow the Mustangs and the Panthers to simply reload every year after another graduating class.

It all goes back to the commitment of the coaches, and their players and their schools are better off because of it.