Delhi High has a new volleyball coach for the 2014 season. Valley local, Lauren Ruell, who graduated from Buhach Colony in 2005 and then went on to play volleyball at Merced Junior College, is the Hawks' new head coach.
Ruell will come into a Hawks program that has not seen success since its 2006 season, when the team amassed 10 wins. Since then, Delhi has only been able to put together three wins in a season, struggling to find a groove.
“I decided Delhi was better for me and I made the switch. It wasn’t just volleyball, but that’s the school I wanted to teach at eventually,” Ruell said. “I really enjoy working with kids who don’t necessarily have a lot and especially with athletics when you come from a low-income school, colleges overlook it, and I now have athletes that can compete at the next level and that’s why I wanted to work here.”
Ruell had been the head coach of Livingston’s volleyball squad for the previous two seasons and in her first year the squad went 8-4 in the Western Athletic Conference, which was good enough for third in league and a spot in the postseason.
Ever since making the move over to Delhi, Ruell decided she would take the same approach with this team that could ultimately lead to not only a successful year on the court but also in the girls' lives.
“I have a different outlook on volleyball, not just to win but build these girls and structure and teach them that hard work pays off,” Ruell said. “The girls are soaking it all up and absorbing it; I never had a team buy in so much, and it really is crazy in a good way.”
Ruell went in with a calm, yet confident approach in the first practice and sat the athletes down and asked what they wanted out of the season. She went on to ask if they wanted to have fun or win and be competitive. All the girls agreed to work hard and compete.
“I went in there and basically asked if they will give me all, they have to be that team and they have so far,” said Ruell.
All the hard work has been paying off in the offseason, Ruell said.
“The change is drastic from what I saw before and now it is crazy how they are committed and they are all on the same page and that helps,” Ruell said. “I went in the first month and a half, we couldn’t even scrimmage against ourselves, it was just fundamentals and breaking it down and teaching them how we want fundamentals and we ran summer leagues with other teams.”
Amongst those teams were numerous Division I high schools that decided to compete against the smaller school in Delhi and that seems to have helped the team grow.
“Playing these Division I teams has helped and now I try to teach them more than volleyball, I try to tell them a quote before practice and tell them to apply it on to the court and in life,” Ruell said. “It is so interactive with everything I am teaching them.”
Ruell is confident that her team will turn the program around for this upcoming year.
The team is currently in dead period and won’t be able to practice until the second week of August. The first regular season matchup is scheduled for Sept. 9 at Elliot Christian High School.