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McKenzie to hold first-ever volleyball tryouts Monday

The hardwood floors of McKenzie’s gym will be home to more than one sport come this fall.

McKenzie assistant principal and athletic director Miles Brown announced the school’s very first volleyball team beginning next fall.

“It came about when Donna Byrd, who is a teacher here at our school, presented an interest in wanting to coach girls volleyball and wanting to start a program here,” Brown said.

“That’s what pretty much started the whole thing.”

McKenzie will have no shortage of local opponents in the sport, as Red Level, Hillcrest Evergreen, Straughn, Andalusia, Pleasant Home, Florala, Greenville, Brantley, Luverne and Highland Home all have volleyball teams.

Byrd said that her desire to start a volleyball program stemmed from wanting to give McKenzie’s young women a chance to experience a great sport.

“My daughter played in high school and I followed her with it, and it was a lot of fun to watch,” Byrd said.

“She enjoyed it, so I’d just like to see the girls have different opportunities. Where they may not stand out in one sport, they might in another.”

The announcement garnered a thunderous applause at Monday night’s athletic banquet, and it surprised Byrd most of all.

“It took me aback, but I was pleasantly surprised, and it made me even more excited about it all,” Byrd added.

“I hope that they just want to experience something new and that they’re on the same page as me, as far as wanting to give our girls something more to do and another opportunity to play.”

Byrd hopes the enthusiasm carries over to tryouts, which will be held next Monday and Wednesday following school.

Though the fall sport is tucked neatly into one of the busiest seasons of the school year, filled with practices for cheerleading, twirling and other sports, Byrd is confident that the various McKenzie coaches can come together to find a solution.

“In the two years that I’ve worked at McKenzie, I’ve learned that everybody works together, so we will do what we need to do,” Byrd said.

“We’ll work together so that if the girls do want to experience both, then they can.  It’ll be a lot of work, but the coaches will all work together to make it happen.”

Though Byrd has had little hands-on time with the sport itself, her enthusiasm dwarfs her prior experience.

“I’m just really excited about it—I didn’t play, but I have a girl who played that’s going to help me out, and I’ve got help from another coach in the state who’s giving me some guidance,” Byrd said.

“It’s going to be a learning process for me as well as the girls, but we’ll learn together and I’m really looking forward to it.”