Four years ago Courtney Nutcher was a server for Denair High’s volleyball team, running up and down the court as the Coyotes tried to best Ripon Christian High and the rest of the Southern Athletic League. Now, after a two year stint as a Modesto Junior College player, Nutcher is back on the courts of Denair only this time she’s the head coach.
Last year was Nutcher’s inaugural season as the Coyote’s leader. She led her team to a 4-10 record in the SAL and finished 5-13-3 overall. Although eight players are gone from last season’s team, Nutcher is aiming for an improved season with her three returning starters and the rest of her young group; no easy task in the SAL.
“It’s a tough league,” Nutcher said. “We need to be quick and aggressive.”
Samantha Watts, Nicole Sanders, and Brigette Burgess are the de facto leaders this season but their experience can only do so much to negate Denair’s height issue. With a fairly short team the Coyotes will not only have to be aggressive but they will have to play smart as well. Nutcher’s background as a former Denair player has helped with the preparation process.
“It’s a young team and we don’t have much height so we have to learn how to play defense and make sure not to let any balls fall,” Nutcher said. “I learned a lot as a player and it helps when coaching. The most important thing is communication and staying positive.”
The upside of Denair’s young team is that this season will be a building block for the next. Still, Nutcher and her lady Coyotes are focused on the present. Denair will compete in the Johansen Tournament on Saturday, giving Nutcher the chance to asses her players, gauge positions, and determine rotation order. The remainder of Denair’s preseason schedule includes matches against Livingston, Hughson, and Tioga High as well as another tournament. SAL play begins Sept. 13 against powerhouse Ripon Christian High.