By Joshua Price/Sports Editor
If the administrators at Etowah High School and the City of Attalla were looking for a winner to revitalize the Lady Blue Devils’ varsity volleyball program, they hired the right man.
Jim Bogle was recently named head volleyball coach at Etowah, taking control of a struggling program.
Bogle coached volleyball at Jacksonville High School in 1997 before accepting the head coaching job at Gaston High School in the summer of 1998, where he coached until 2008. Bogle compiled an overall record of 475-288 during the 12 seasons, tallying a 358-167 record at Gaston, and the Class 1A state championship in his final season.
Bogle said he will face a similar situation this fall at Etowah as he did at Jacksonville in 1997 – the task of rebuilding.
“Anytime you build a new program, you have to expect some struggles at first. The program here is down just like it was there, but there were plenty of good athletes to work with. It is my job to turn them into volleyball players. We will have to get our program going. There will be a lot of confusion early in the year because we will be learning new offenses and fundamentals, but I think we will see improvements early in the season.”
Bogle said learning the fundamentals of volleyball early in the season is imperative to the team’s overall success this season.
“We are gonna be behind in so many areas technically, but we will have to go out and have fun and hopefully win some games by simply out-working the other team. Ninety-nine percent of volleyball is placement and we have to work hard in transition – which is the key to winning in volleyball. If you don’t move well, you simply will not win.”
Bogle said he was impressed with some of the workouts the Lady Devils have had thus far with other coaches.
“We have some young girls that can leap and we have some with some size. We will work hard to develop their talent and work a lot on blocking. That is always my forte. It is good to have some girls with size to beat the other teams’ play-enders. We have a number of players here who could be good volleyball players if they learn the basic skills of volleyball.”
Bogle is no stranger to playing and winning with youngsters.
“At Gaston in 2006, we had six seniors and our best hitters were sophomores. We started younger players that season and made a run at the title. That same group made a run at it in 2007, and polished it off in 2008.”
Bogle has developed many local players into college level performers. In over 12 years of coaching volleyball, over 20 of his players have signed college scholarships. Bogle said those players’ work ethic was unmatched, most notably those who played on the state championship team.
“We’ve been fortunate to have great players on our teams over the years, but those girls worked hard for their success. Everyone on the state title team played aggressive, fundamental volleyball. We walked into gyms knowing we were gonna be state champs that year.”
Bogle said the Lady Blue Devils must execute the fundamentals of volleyball early in the season. He said passing the ball will be an offensive priority this summer.
“We will definitely pass the ball as well as any team around. Passing the ball in volleyball is like a snap in football. It is hard for a quarterback to run a play if the center fumbles the ball on every snap. Passing is very, very important in volleyball. I expect my players to give more than they are used to giving. I expect them to dive on the floor after balls and work harder than they have ever worked. Volleyball is a technical game and players have to get after it to win.”
Etowah competes in Class 5A, Area 12, which includes Southside, Boaz and Albertville.
“We are in a tough area and will have to play tough to compete, but we will get after it and do what we do.”
Bogle pointed to the efforts of other members of Etowah’s coaching staff for their efforts in off-season summer training.
“I’m pumped about this season. Ryan Fore and some of the other coaches here have worked the girls hard this summer and they keep coming back for more. I think they have the right mindset and I am excited about the new season. They got a taste of what it takes to win in the regional tournament in basketball last year and they liked it.”
Bogle made it plain that the secret to success in any sport is hard work and dedication.
“Girls are just gonna have to buy in to what we do. We have to master the fundamentals and skills necessary to win. When they buy into the program and decide they want to do whatever it takes to win we will be successful.”
Bogle likened the winning mindset and attitude to that of a particular National Basketball Association legend.
“I am reminded when a friend of mine was in a 3-point shooting contest with Larry Bird during the NBA All-Star Week back in the 1980’s. Bird walked into the locker room before the contest and said to my friend and the other competitor, “which one of you two will come in second tonight?” Then Bird went out and hit 17 3-pointers in a row to win the event. That is the mentality you have to have to win. Nobody outworked Bird and few could beat him. Hard work pays off in the end. A player can be in two places in sports – either dominating or being dominated. If we get our kids to the point where they are excited about coaches pushing them to be better, we will be hard to beat.”