E.A. Sports Today

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Alexandria’s Welch to be recognized as NFHS State Volleyball Coach of the Year 

Alexandria volleyball coach Whitney Welch (R) accepts a commemorative game ball after leading the Lady Cubs to a 3-0 victory in the 2017 Class 5A state title match.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
 
The reminders are in plain sight every day. There’s the trophy in the case in the gym lobby. There’s the volleyball on the gym wall near the scoreboard where Alexandria commemorates all of its state championships.
 
But it’s on the days like the one earlier this week when Gracie Muncher and other former players come back into the gym to work out that the memories really return for Whitney Welch.
 
Welch directed the Lady Cubs to the 2017 Class 5A state volleyball championship. It was a “special season” and later this month, at the Coaches Championship Awards Banquet during the All-Star Sports Week in Montgomery, she will be recognized as the NFHS 2017-18 State Volleyball Coach of the Year.
 
Don’t think somebody missed the boat and they’re catching up on giving out the hardware. The national association’s state awards are given for the most recently completed school year in which they’re voted upon – in Welch’s case 2018 – so the recognition typically takes place in the following year.
 
“I’m just very honored, very humbled and honored to be chosen out of all the classifications,” Welch said. “Of course, it does go back to the girls and that team, but it’s a big deal for our program to be able to get that kind of recognition. I think that’s good for our girls and our program now and in the future.”
 
Welch joins a strong list of Calhoun County coaches who have been recognized as NFHS state coaches of the year. She joins Pleasant Valley girls cross country coach Brad Hood, former Oxford wrestling coach Matt Hicks and Piedmont football coach Steve Smith among the most recent honorees.
 
Welch’s 2017 team went 44-9 and beat Lawrence County in the final 3-0, capturing the program’s first state title in 22 years. Taylor Spradley was tournament MVP and Class 5A Player of the Year. Muncher, who courageously came back from a thumb injury that kept her out of the regional finals, Aubrey Pope and Mattie Wade made the all-tournament team.
 
“Of course I think about it and I hope it’s not the last one; I hope we get to do it again,” she said. “Just seeing the girls celebrate I think that’s why we coach … We do it because we love it and to see them celebrate and be so happy for what they accomplished.
 
“That’s what I remember, their faces and how happy they were. We see the trophy in the case, but a lot of those girls come back around; every single one of those seniors came in the gym this summer. I see their faces a lot and every time I do I think about it.”



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