Photo: Courtney Brothers speaks to her Southside High School volleyball team during the 2018 season. Brothers was recently hired as Gadsden State volleyball coach. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger file photo)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Courtney Brothers was a bit surprised when she learned earlier this month that she had beat out the competition for the Gadsden State volleyball head coaching position.
Brothers, who coached the Southside High School volleyball team for the past seven years, said she applied for the position almost as an afterthought.
“To be honest, I didn’t apply until the very last day [the position] was posted for,” she said. “My main goal was to see how a college interview would go, because that’s something I’d never done before. When I got the interview, I didn’t get my hopes up, because I didn’t know who was applying and how many applicants there were. But here we are, and I’m thankful for the opportunity.”
Brothers had mixed emotions after Gadsden State Athletic Director Mike Cancilla informed her of the college’s decision.
“I was a little excited but I also a little nervous, because this is something outside my comfort zone. It’s a lot more responsibility than at the high school level, but it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”
Brothers takes over from Connie Clark, who coached the Lady Cardinals for the past six seasons.
A 2001 Southside High graduate, Brothers played softball for two years at Gadsden State before transferring to Jacksonville State, where she graduated from in 2005 with a degree in Health and Physical Education. She taught and helped coach varsity volleyball at Rainbow Middle School for two years before transferring to the Calhoun County School System. She taught briefly at Oxford and Ohatchee before teaching and coaching softball at Saks for seven years. In 2015, she returned home to teach at Southside Elementary and coach the SHS volleyball team.
Brothers guided the 2021 Lady Panthers to a 45-13 record, a 12th straight Etowah County Schools Tournament championship and an appearance at the Class 6A Super Regional Tournament.
“I was fortunate enough to have some very good players come through who were used to being successful [in volleyball] from a young age,” she said.
Brothers has hit the ground running since starting her new job on December 8, meeting with the returning players contacting her 2022 incoming freshmen and holding an open tryout. The 2021 Lady Cardinals went 11-21 overall and 10-12 in the Alabama Community College Conference.
“During our meeting, we talked about how we wanted to get a higher seed at the conference tournament,” said Brothers. “We talked about being more competitive in the conference.”
Brothers confirmed that Ashville High senior and Class 4A All-State hitter Sera Beth Potter recently committed.
“For me, the biggest difference [in college] is that I can go out and look for players that I want, where at the high school level, we develop them into our style of play, Once we establish our style of play at Gadsden State, we can go out and look for players who will make our program better. Hopefully with me knowing a lot of the coaches in this part of the state will help in recruiting.”
Brothers will follow in the footsteps of SHS athletic director and Snead State volleyball coach Angie Sanders, who was head volleyball coach at Gadsden State for several seasons and was Brothers’ high school coach.
“It’s kind of surreal, because Coach Angie has done such a great job of laying a foundation to follow (at Gadsden State). We’ll have a neat little rivalry going on between us and Snead.”