VOLLEYBALL: Conner named new coach at Fort White
FORT WHITE — Volleyball has been her entire life as a player and a coach.
It’s always been her passion, a passion she’ll now take into the gym at Fort White.
Deanna Conner was recently been hired as the Lady Indians’ new coach to replace Kali Hunter, who stepped down after three seasons as she prepares to get married later this year. Conner comes over from First Christian Academy, where she spent the past three seasons on the staff after spending three years as the head coach at Riverside.
The Lady Indians met their new coach for the first time on Thursday when Conner held an open gym practice following back-to-back 5-12 seasons under Hunter.
“I’ve told them they have a lot of work to do and as long as they come and give 110 (percent) effort and workload, they’re going to be just fine,” Conner said. “I know that from everything I’ve heard they need guidance and I don’t have a problem doing that. It’s just going to take me probably the summer to learn the girls and what their potentials are and stretch them a little bit and get them outside of their comfort zone and get them growing. That’s what our intentions are this year — pick them up and get them better as a team.”
Conner has been on a volleyball court since a young age. She played all four years in high school in addition to playing in a church league and then continued to play beach volleyball recreationally after graduating. A friend recommended that Conner apply for the opening at Fort White and athletic director John Wilson said she impressed the school in her interview.
“She had a good interview and she wants to not only do the normal stuff that new coaches want to do like come in and be effective with the kids but she has a sincere manner about her where she really truly wants to help kids get better and work together in a family atmosphere,” Wilson said. “TIWAHE was brought up to her during the interview and she said that’s exactly what she wants. She wants to have a family atmosphere where the kids come in and improve as the year progresses and as they go on.”
The Lady Indians were already introduced to a couple of Conner’s techniques and strategies during Thursday’s open session. Conner says she’s excited about the challenge of turning around Fort White’s program and she believes she has the experience to make it happen.
“I think first and foremost, besides getting to know them and comfortable enough with me that their guards get let down, is I’m giving them the tools that they need. There’s a lot of tools that I have skill-wise and competitive-wise that I think I can offer them. “I think they need more tools and a little more guidance so I think that I have that to give to them.”