After a 2021 season that culminated in a Class 3A state championship, the Paris Lady Eagles volleyball team is rebuilding for the 2022 season following the graduation of several key seniors from their state championship run. Every school eventually goes through the rebuilding phase. Paris has seemingly had one talented class after another in the past several years, and the 2022 roster is also loaded with good young talent. But that talent, for the most part, is relatively inexperienced at the varsity level, and the upcoming season that will be here before you know it, will be full of growing pains for Paris as the underclassmen develop throughout the season.
Paris head coach, Jordan Devine, “came out of retirement” for the upcoming season as the Lady Eagles’ coach. Devine had intended to retire from coaching after the state championship season in 2021, but was later asked by the district to return for this year. Devine is back, and she is as excited as ever to work with the 2022 edition of the Lady Eagles.
But with that excitement comes the realization that although there continues to be good talent and athleticism in the program, she knows that several sophomore players will be counted on to step up and make significant contributions to a program that has a very high standard of expectations for both performance and team success.
The approach of Coach Devine this summer has been of teaching and patience. Young players are developing into varsity players, and the Paris coaches have been busy teaching individual skills, as well as developing team chemistry. Dead weeks as mandated by the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) are now in effect until July 9, but, as soon as the team returns from the break, the intensity will ratchet up as the August opening season approaches, and the team prepares for another tough non-conference portion of their schedule.
The message to Paris volleyball fans is patience; this team is young and talented, but will require patience early on in their season. They should steadily improve with each week, but there may be growing pains early. There is a tradition of excellence in the program from both past and current players, and nothing but excellence on and off the court will continue to be expected from everyone connected with the program. But, the truth is, the team graduated several talented and experienced players from last year’s championship team, and that is a challenge to replace. But the Lady Eagles will continue to improve and by district and state tournament times, they should be ready to contend in the post-season.
Last week, Paris scrimmaged two days against former players who understand the tradition of excellence in the Lady Eagles volleyball program. In fact, they came out in large numbers to play against the team to provide practice opportunities against veteran players who enjoy playing the game and continuing their influence and legacy of the program. They have great pride in having played in the Paris program, and their message to the current team is to continue to work hard and carry on the championship legacy of Paris volleyball.
With some of the Lady Eagles also participating in summer girls basketball camps and workouts, Coach Devine scheduled the alumni volleyball scrimmages as a way to get additional work in before dead weeks. The scrimmages were all part of an intense summer schedule that consists of practices and playing in camps around the state to simulate game conditions and to prepare the young Lady Eagles for the season.
Stay with RNN Sports as we will continue to bring you updates on the Lady Eagles’ summer practices and preparations, all leading up to the season opener in August!
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