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Williams transforms Thorsby volleyball

Ginger Williams admits she needed some help transforming Thorsby’s program.

Luckily, Williams didn’t have to look far.

Williams, The Clanton Advertiser’s Volleyball Coach of the Year, and her husband, Keith, have combined to guide many of the same Rebels that won a total of five matches in Williams’ first two seasons to unprecedented heights this year.

“I knew we had a long way to go,” Williams said about her initial thoughts about her first job as a head coach. “It’s exciting because it’s a chance to rebuild and do it the way you want to.

“I wouldn’t say I was overwhelmed, but I knew it would be a process.”

Thorsby won four matches in Williams’ first season, in 2006, one match in 2007 and seven matches last season.

The Rebels went 18-16 in the 2009 regular season and made the program’s first-ever appearance in the sub-state round of the playoffs.

The success can be traced to a plan Williams put in place upon her arrival from Douglas High School, where she both played and served as an assistant.

Williams said she knew her players had to spend much more time in the weight room and take on the attitude that they would not accept failure.

But this presented a dilemma: push the players too hard and/or stress the negative too much, and Williams would have risked killing off the already limited interest in the sport.

So, she took a measured approach. Workouts and conditioning, which were handled by assistant coach Keith, became a little more difficult each year. And Williams let her players remain positive, even through all the losses, in the name of improvement.

Until this season.

“We met with each of them individually before the season, told them what we expected of them and said, ‘It’s up to you,’” Williams said. “This season, we’re not going to have this, ‘Oh, we’re getting better.’ This year, we want to win.”

Three seniors—Michelle Hendrix, Brittany Maddox and Stephanie Moore—who were freshman starters on Williams’ first team represent a microcosm of the program’s turnaround.

Williams said it’s “unreal” how much the three have improved.

“The biggest improvement was attitude,” Williams said. “They always worked hard, but it was realizing how good they could be. You don’t want to be arrogant, but you have to walk on the court and think, ‘There’s no way we can get beat.’”

Interest in volleyball has increased as a result of the success.

In May 2007, Williams organized a volleyball clinic for girls in grades 2-5. Ten girls showed up.

A similar clinic was held this past May. There were more than 30 participants.

“I think this season will help even more with that,” Williams said.

With a larger talent pool, a winning attitude and players accustomed to hard work, the future of Thorsby volleyball is bright.