MIDLOTHIAN — Timmi Blackshear and the Jaguars will look to add firepower to their roster when they open their three-day 2017 tryout sessions on Aug. 1 at Midlothian Heritage High School Gymnasium.
The date is less than five days away for incoming freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors that will bring a mixture of talent and experience to the table.
"I don't place too much importance on experience when placing girls in the program. I've been and will continue to look for those kids that are continually working hard, communicating and being a leader on and off the court," said Blackshear, the new head volleyball coach at MHHS. "I look for leadership, solid volleyball IQ, ability to make good game time decisions and those [players] willing to put in the work to compete no matter the situation. I look for those girls that just have grit. I love it. I'll bet on kids with grit all day long."
The tryouts will begin Tuesday and continue through Thursday, with the first two days spent evaluating all grades between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., noon to 2 p.m. for freshmen athletes and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for junior varsity and varsity athletes. Blackshear and the volleyball staff reserved 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. evaluation time for all grades, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for freshmen and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for JV and varsity players during the third and final day of the tryouts.
All athletes are required to have a current physical, medical release and all required paperwork from UIL by the first day of tryouts. These documents, except for the physical can be found on the Midlothian ISD website under the athletic portal. If parents or athletes have questions about obtaining documents, Blackshear advised them to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org so the staff can make sure all girls are ready and released to participate.
The staff will also choose two captains on each team, which are voted on by players and coaches. Uniforms will be issued prior to our first match on Tuesday, August 8 that will be at Brewer High School.
"By being named captain by not just your coaches, but your teammates means more than the decision falling solely on myself or the other coaches," Blackshear said. "It means they're looked up to and held in high esteem by their peers which is the definition of what I believe a captain should be. Being a captain comes with more responsibility than calling a coin flip on a Friday night."
The Jaguars are expected to return all 12 players that reached the University Interscholastic League 4A playoffs for the second consecutive time in two years of the school's existence under former Head Coach Sarah Hallum. Some of the notable names that could grace MHHS Gymnasium for the third year could be senior middle hitter Julia Valdez, junior libero Katie Chambers, junior middle blocker Grayce Davis and senior setter Victoria Needles.
The Jaguars also expect to have 6-foot-3 junior middle blocker Karena Tipton, 6-foot junior middle blocker Julia Goerig, 6-foot-1 sophomore outside hitter and 6-foot sophomore middle hitter Hanna Larson somewhere in the mix. Midlothian Heritage finished 21-20 overall and 7-5 in District 8-4A in 2016.
"I would love for my team to have the never quit and no excuses mindset, with the expectation to win every time they get on the court — regardless of whether it's a practice competition drill or whether it's in November for the State Title," Blackshear said. "I want them to expect to win. I honestly believe the possibilities for success for this program are endless and not only reasonable but expected. These aren't just talented girls, but hard working and enjoyable girls. They are girls that I will be thrilled to support on Tuesday and Friday nights. You go through a lot of highs and lows in a season, and I think if we can all stay invested throughout them all until we reach a consistency and begin to peak, move past those things we currently struggle with, they will be a tough group of girls to beat."
The Jaguars first scrimmages will be on Aug. 4 at Mansfield Legacy High School and Aug. 5 at Burleson High. Their first tournament will be on Aug. 11 and Aug. 12 at the Duncanville Tournament of Champions.
---- Marcus S. Marion is the sports editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light and Midlothian Mirror. He can be reached by phone at (469) 517-1456 or across social media platforms @MarcusSMarion.