Kirkpatrick enjoying new role

Published 3:00 am Saturday, July 29, 2017

Sonny Kirkpatrick went from coaching the Troy Trojans volleyball team to the Charles Henderson Trojans, but he said in many ways it’s the same process.

“We are trimming some of the things down that we did at Troy, but they are like the Troy players,” Kirkpatrick said. “We are teaching them exactly how I taught at Troy. They know what the schedule is going to be. We go over stuff and we build off the skills. It’s a lot of technique work and discipline.”

Seven months after he was named Charles Henderson’s head volleyball coach, Kirkpatrick and his team will take part in their first competitive match today in Enterprise. Even though it won’t count in the record books, Kirkpatrick believes it will go a long way in telling him how far his team has progressed this summer.

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“We have done quite a bit of work,” Kirkpatrick said. “I will be able to tell you a lot more after tomorrow. We have so much to learn yet, but they are really starting to grab it and pick it up. We are starting to be able to see what we think we can be and that is kind of exciting.”

Kirkpatrick spent 11 season’s as Troy’s head coach and he has brought his structure, strategies and gameplan with him to Charles Henderson.

After playing under long-time coach Jennifer Sikes last season, the Trojan players have had to adjust quickly to the new coaching styles of Kirkpatrick.

“I think they have bought in from day one,” Kirkpatrick said. “It has not been hard to get them to do anything because they want to be good and they want to learn, be taught and compete.”

The Trojans have focused on footwork and agility all summer and Kirkpatrick and his staff have preached the importance of holding themselves accountable for doing their jobs.

“They are wanting to be good and that is the fun thing,” Kirkpatrick said. “If you want to be good and willing to do the work, which they have, it’s going to benefit us when we start competing in August.”

Kirkpatrick’s strategies are not just for the varsity Trojans; they are meant to flow down to the junior varsity and even middle school levels.

“I have direct influence on both of those programs,” Kirkpatrick said. “Debbi Smartt is our middle school coach and she is going a great job. Lana Johnson is our JV coach and we got Ashley Friday from Morgan Academy who won three state championships. We have got some really good people there. We have met and kind of told them what the philosophy is that we will be sticking with and they have been very excited about it.”

Charles Henderson will compete with state powerhouse Providence Christian and 15-time state champion Bayside Academy in Enterprise tomorrow.

“We haven’t talked about winning and losing,” Kirkpatrick said. “We talk about making sure that we are competing. If we can compete at a high enough level, then we will be able to win. That will take care of itself.”