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Encouragement, love of game drive Wildcats

Tracey Fretwell knows the sport of volleyball is taking off at Tharptown because she sees it firsthand every year as the team’s veteran coach.

“Every year I am genuinely surprised at how much my teams give to this sport,” said Fretwell. “I know I love it, but seeing the love of the game in the girls makes it all worth it. They put so much into it and work harder and harder every year.”

The Wildcats have to work hard and put in the time to compete in arguably the toughest area in Class 2A, which includes the two best teams in the state: Addison and Winston County. 

Keeping a team motivated while facing such a gauntlet can be challenging, but Fretwell said her girls respond the right way.

“One thing I’ve always tried to instill in my girls is to encourage each other,” Fretwell explained. “They should always play as hard as they can and, when they see someone’s motivation level going down, bring them back no matter what it takes.  I tell them many times that making a mistake is not what defines them; it is how they respond and come back from the mistake that matters most.”

Fretwell said the lessons the girls learn from sports like volleyball will carry over into life.

“We’re not just coaching and teaching these athletes a sport,” said Fretwell. “We are helping to shape them into the adults they are going to be. If we allow them to be too hard on themselves or expect anything less than all they can give, we are setting them up to fail.”

Three seniors will lead the way for Fretwell: Brooke Daily, Adriana Borden and Shaylee Weiting.

“These seniors have really stepped it up this summer,” said Fretwell.  “They have taken extra time with the younger players and have helped keep the others motivated.”

Weiting has never played volleyball before but is a gifted athlete and was awarded camp All-Star at UAB this summer along with Daily.

Returning underclassmen are Perla Chavez, Macy Petree, Berenice Bahena and Bailey Nipper. “I see a drive in these girls that makes me proud,” said Fretwell.

Some newcomers to keep an eye on are Leslie Staggs, Taylor Cameron and Jaiden Gaston.