Player shortfall presses LTCC coach into action
When Cheryl Vanos-Embry signed on with the Lake Tahoe Community College volleyball team three years ago, it was to be a coach.
Through the first few preseason games of the 1998 season, however, Vanos-Embry has found herself in the team’s starting lineup. The Kokanee are looking for athletes and the former college player has been the team’s sixth player so far.
“We’ve got a couple of new players coming in,” said the coach, for whose team the one preseason win didn’t count other than for practice. “I’ve seen 16 or 17 players come out for the team, then decide not to play because of work or school. Hopefully by Friday we’ll be set.”
The Kokanee have one more preseason contest, scheduled for Friday at Reedley College, before their Golden Valley League opener at College of the Redwoods on Oct. 9-10. Until then, Vanos-Embry will have to cultivate a wide mix of age and experience. Just two of the team’s five players have played volleyball, while two could be characterized as having experience on their side. According to the coach, Nikki Camello is the team’s leader and best player at age 42, while 27-year-old Jodie Reich adds additional know-how.
“They’re athletic and smart. They know how to work the court,” Vanos-Embry said. “Whereas the young ones are still trying to hot dog it.
“But we’ve got strong potential and a good group. We just need to get over this hump.”
Although Camello hasn’t played competitive volleyball since traveling with the Stonestown YMCA of San Francisco to the nationals in Hawaii in 1977, the 42-year-old said she’s taking to her role as the team’s captain just fine.
“I feel like I have more energy than a lot of them and offer more experience. I’m a spring chicken,” said Camello, who plays in the middle. “(Vanos-Embry) is very positive and can read each player really well. We’re starting to gel. We just have to play to have fun, make the most of the ride and keep a positive attitude.”
The Kokanee are coming off back-to-back one-win seasons, having only beaten Lassen in the past two years. Vanos-Embry said the key to improving the program is the cultivation of the community’s younger players.
“We’re hoping to get some of the area’s high school players here next year and keep the feeder programs strong,” she said.
Those interested in joining the LTCC volleyball team can call (530) 541-4660, ext. 262.
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