SWEENY — In her third season at the helm, Sweeny’s Evaree Ray led the Lady Dogs to an 8-0 District 24-4A record on the volleyball court as they earned the district title and a trip to the playoffs. Those accomplishment earned her The Facts Coach of the Year honor.
For Ray, a former Lady Dog player, things are calming down a bit for her as a coach.
“Things are still evolving, but I do think it is getting easier and smoother, but I can’t stay where I am,” Ray said. “I have to continue growing, by learning the new players and having to understand their characteristics and what I can do to help them to continue to grow with me.”
Sweeny finished 22-19 overall after bowing out to Splendora (25-15, 25-19, 25-18) in the area round of the playoffs.
“I had a lot of youth this past season, and I had made the schedule harder by playing many 5A and 6A schools,” Ray said. “But it wasn’t for early success; it was for us to get that success during postseason. I think we struggled at the beginning, but it fused during district, and now I am looking for some of those girls who are coming back to set an example for the new ones to come in.”
Ray has come to understand that being a head coach means more than just one job. There are many different webs associated with that kind of title.
“I depend a lot on my energy and enthusiasm to push the girls, and as the years keep going by I have to figure out ways to reach the girls,” she said. “It isn’t always easy, because you are just not a coach, you are a counselor, a mom, a lot of different things than just a coach. So having to balance all of that out, I also try to remind the girls that it isn’t all about the game; more about what I can help them in becoming a young lady and pushing them toward after the game. It isn’t about the game anymore, it is about molding young women, and that is what I am doing.”
One of Ray’s strengths is connecting with players on a different level. By the time they leave her program, they are more understanding of team play and camaraderie.
“At the beginning when you have different personalities, they still don’t depend as much on their teammates just themselves,” Ray said. “So with that adversity, they come to understand that these are the teammates that will not leave me no matter what. These teammates will push them to be a better person, better teammate, and that is how they can trust in them and believe in them, and good things will happen for them.”