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Future Martha Layne Collins High School volleyball players have their work cut out for them.
New coach Abbey Buchert is no slouch. She’s passionate about volleyball. She abhors laziness. And she can throw a 40-yard spiral.
Okay, that last part isn’t really relevant to her gig as the head volleyball coach, but it’s impressive none-the-less.
Buchert, 25, is a first-year second-grade teacher at Painted Stone Elementary School, and she says her coaching competitiveness spills into classroom work.
“I put our goals everywhere,” Buchert said. “We play a lot of games. I think it’s more fun when you’re trying to work toward something.”
Buchert played volleyball through middle school and high school in Orlando, Fla. She was a captain of the varsity volleyball squad and started as a middle hitter and blocker.
Buchert was also an all-state quarterback for her high school's flag football team. In Florida, flag football was a sanctioned sport. Buchert’s three older brothers were quarterbacks, and her father Jerry Buchert, coached high school football for many years. He will be an assistant coach at Collins this fall.
When Buchert came to the University of Kentucky, she became the manager for the volleyball team and continued to play flag football and recreational volleyball.
With the UK squad, Buchert had her first coaching experience, guiding teams during summer camp. Then when she was earning her master’s degree, Buchert coached a 15-and-under club team in Lexington that finished third-best in that age group.
“I brought the same mentality as if they were the best players,” she said. “My thing is, you’re going to work hard or you’re not going to play. The girls got it. They improved a ton.”
Parents, she said, had a hard time understanding why their children were sitting out. But the players knew and could explain it to them. She’d even ask players if they were giving their all, and they would answer honestly.
These are just some of her coaching philosophies that perspective players and their parents can expect Buchert to share when she holds an informational meeting in May. She’s putting together a summer workout plan and hopes to be able to take the team to UK’s camp in late summer. Practice for the school season begins July 15.
“I don’t know anyone’s skills or background,” she said. “I’m glad I have that fresh perspective to see what they’ll give.”
She’s still in the process of choosing uniforms and equipment and completing the schedule, as well as hiring an assistant coach.
Buchert plans to implement many of the drills and practice sessions from UK Coach Craig Skinner. And she will be emphasizing aggressive play and passing.
“Passing is defense,” Buchert said. “I definitely want to run a quick-tempo program where we’re not just doing good things, we’re doing great things. I want that quick pass, with a quick set and a quick hit. If you have a program like that, it doesn’t matter how tall your girls are. You can tip and get a kill.”
She expects a lot of hard work, energy and tons of talking from her future team.
“If you’re not tired by the end of the game, something’s wrong,” Buchert said. “They will work hard. Volleyball’s fun though. I’m definitely pumped.”