New CHS volleyball coach named
As a sixth grader, Purdy native Mandy (Payne) Henry knew she wanted to be a coach just like her dad, Mike Payne. Now, a decade and a half later, Henry finds herself taking over as head volleyball coach at Cassville High School after serving as middle school volleyball coach at Cassville for the past five years.
Henry replaces Pete Rose, who retired as CHS volleyball coach at the end of the 2005 season. Rose also happens to have been Henry's high school coach for three years at Purdy.
In high school, Henry excelled in three sports, volleyball, basketball and softball, but it was volleyball that Henry chose to pursue in college.
"I started being around the game when I was in fourth grade, and I loved it," said Henry.
During Henry's high school career, the Purdy Lady Eagles volleyball squad made it to the state finals all four years. She was a four-year letterman for the team and a three-year starter.
Her freshman year, Henry was a defensive specialist for the varsity squad and played as setter for the junior varsity. During her sophomore through senior years, Henry took over as varsity setter.
In 1992, the Lady Eagles finished third in state, and then in 1993, 1994 and 1995, under the helm of Coach Rose, Purdy placed second at state.
For her efforts, Henry earned All-State first team honors her junior and senior years and was an All-Conference and All-District first team choice her sophomore, junior and senior years.
In addition to playing high school volleyball, Henry also was a member of the Springfield Juniors club volleyball team her junior and senior years.
Henry was recruited to play for College of the Ozarks and started all four years. Her senior year, College of the Ozarks went to the National Tournament and was ranked in the top nine to 16 teams in the nation that year.
Henry still holds the career assists record at C of O with over 4,900 tallied in four years of play. She was also named All-Conference her sophomore, junior and senior years.
After graduating from college with a physical education degree, Henry spent one year at Drury University as a volleyball graduate assistant. While at Drury, Henry also began work on her master's degree.
"I've known since I was in sixth grade that I wanted to teach PE and coach, thanks to my father, who is my role model," said Henry.
Mike Payne is a beloved figure in the Purdy School District. He retired last year after 28 years of teaching and coaching at Purdy.
"My dad coached me in fifth and sixth grade basketball and also coached me during my sophomore and junior years in softball," said Henry. "I really liked having him as a coach."
Henry began her official coaching career in 2001 when she joined the faculty at Cassville Middle School. Over the past five years, Henry has coached volleyball, track and basketball for CMS while also teaching physical education.
Henry said she was very happy coaching at the middle school level and did not start "kicking around" the idea of moving up to high school until Rose announced his retirement.
"I thought about it for about two months before deciding to do it," said Henry. "I am getting a lot of support from my husband (Doug Henry). He encouraged me to do this."
Henry believes the CHS volleyball program will benefit from the fact that Henry and Rose have worked so closely together over the years, first as player and coach and then as coaches at the same school.
"Having been a part of Pete's program, as a player and then for the last five years as a coach, it will make the transition much smoother," Henry said.
Although Coach Rose has been a big part of Henry's volleyball history, her style of coaching is her own.
"My style is different from Coach Rose," said Henry. "I like explaining why we do things to the girls. I'm not their friend, but I am someone they can come to about things outside of volleyball. I like to get the know the girls more personally."
Henry also gets involved quickly when she sees changes that need to be made.
"I'm very hands on," said Henry. "I'm not one to sit back. If something's not working, we're going to fix it."
It is also not uncommon to see Henry's small frame out on the court working side by side with her team.
"I play with the girls," said Henry. "It raises their intensity level when I'm out there playing."
Henry has big goals for the Ladycats in the coming years.
"Within the next three to four years, I'd like to see us get to the state tournament," said Henry. "I think we have the talent for it."
And while her long-term goals are lofty, her short-term outlook is realistic.
"This will be a building year as the girls learn what I expect of them," said Henry. "I will be learning what I can get from them, and I'll be adjusting to them having a life outside of sports.
"I'm nervous, but I'm also very excited," Henry added.
This summer, Henry has been holding open gyms once a week and averaging about 25 girls at each session. In July, the open gym schedule will change to three times a week.
Ladycat volleyball camp is scheduled for July 10 through July 14 at the high school gym. High school players will train from 9 to 11 a.m. each day and middle school players will train from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"Anyone who plans to play volleyball next year at Cassville needs to attend," said Henry.
Varsity players will also be attending a team camp at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin at the end of July.