Sometimes, the best way to motivate kids is to find a recent student-athlete who can get the best out of his or her teammates.
As a former student-athlete at Northwest High School, Taylor Cantrell represents that mold for the Mohawks. The 2015 NHS graduate was named as the head coach of the Northwest program earlier this summer
“I’m actually a little bit nervous because this is my first year of coaching, so I’m a little bit stressed out about it,” Cantrell said. “However, I’m really excited for the season to start and I’m looking forward to the experience. I used to play at Northwest, so I know everyone that I’ll be working with, and I know some of the girls already, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Cantrell, who will be entering her junior year academically at Shawnee State, played high school volleyball for the Mohawks during the final three years of her high school career and contributed to a unit that collected a 17-5 record, a 10-4 SOC II mark, and a Division III District Semifinal appearance in 2014.
That appearance, however, has proven to be Northwest’s only district semifinal appearance over the past five seasons — something that Cantrell believes can change with the girls that she has available at her disposal.
“The players are a pretty good group of girls,” Cantrell said. “I know some of them and actually played alongside some of them when I was in high school. I was a senior when these girls were freshmen. They’re good girls. They definitely work together good as a team, and they show respect to others. They’re a good group of girls, I like them a lot, and I’m looking forward to working with them. They work very good together as a team.”
During Northwest’s banner 2014 season, Cantrell — who was one of seven seniors on the Mohawks’ roster — proved to be an all-around talent, as Cantrell collected 42 service aces and posted the highest serving percentage on the team while collecting 25 digs, 22 kills, and 19 blocks on the season.
As expected, those numbers prove what Cantrell is all about.
“Defense will be the primary focus of our team,” Cantrell said. “Without defense, we can’t play at all, so I’m definitely more of a defensive coach because without it, there’s no way that we can get a volley or a point back.”
With a winning pedigree and a strong-willed mentality pushing her forward, Cantrell expects the Mohawks to compete and win volleyball matches, regardless of the expectations that others may have for Northwest in 2017.
“I want to win and have a very good year,” Cantrell said. “Obviously, we want to have a winning season, and hopefully, be able to come back next year and coach these girls again.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7