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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 17, 2011

New coach, new players, same results –– they win

By Jordan J. Michael

VOORHEESVILLE –– With a new head coach and only three returning players, the Blackbirds’ volleyball team found a way to win.

Will Whitty took over the coaching duties for this season after long-time coach Tom Kurkjian retired. With nine players new to the sport, Whitty said that his team nicknamed itself “the gym-class heroes.”

“We were having a good time no matter what,” Whitty said. “It was a lot of fun and everyone got to play.”

Voorheesville may have joked about its own talent, but the team finished 8-2 in the Central Hudson Valley League. The Birds won the league tournament, beating New Lebanon, an opponent that had given Voorheesville its only two losses of the season.

“That was a great moment for the players,” Whitty said of winning the tournament. “It pumped up the team.”

The Blackbirds went on to lose to Chatham in the first round of sectionals, but the team was already accomplished. Newcomer JD Springer was named to the CHVL First Team and RJ Cave made the Second Team.

“I had some outstanding athletes,” said Whitty. “They were aggressive and made the team what it was.”

Whitty had been an assistant under Kurkjian last year. Whitty told The Enterprise that Kurkjian wanted to leave the team in the hands of someone who was “enthusiastic” and “energetic.”

Kurkjian came through at times during this season, but gave Whitty plenty of space to do his own coaching. “He would give me summaries of what he saw,” Whitty said of Kurkjian.

Voorheesville also got help from some members of the girls’ team, who were state runners-up last fall.

“It was an ongoing joke that the girls’ team would kill us if we played them,” said Whitty. “But, as the season went on, we could have been competitive, maybe. There was never any pressure. The girls were always giving advice and there to watch us play.”

Whitty said that 2011 was a “building” year, but the Blackbirds won plenty of matches. The results were similar to all those successful seasons from the past.

“Success isn’t measured in wins or losses,” Whitty said. “It’s about the progress from day one and whether you had fun. I had a phenomenal time and I want to do this again.”

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