By Kevin Wilson
Eight days from now, they’ll be district foes, with each hoping to gain any advantage possible over the other.
Today, they’re gym-mates.
Due to renovations, the Elida Lady Tigers are making the trip to Floyd High School every day for practice.
“I knew them,” Chenault said, “and I called Mr. (Floyd Superintendent Wally) Feldman and he said, ‘Sure.’”
Chenault admits that family connections might have helped out as well. His sister-in-law, Sheri, is a teacher at Floyd and niece Darcee is a sophomore on this year’s Lady Bronco squad.
In addition to its proximity, Floyd High School also has two gymnasiums and two volleyball nets. The end result is that one team doesn’t have to wait for the other to finish practicing.
“It’s worked out fine right now because we haven’t been at school,” said new Floyd volleyball coach Sean Wootton. Floyd practices from 3-5 p.m. in the auxiliary gym, and Elida comes in from 4-6 p.m. to work in the main gym.
“It helps me as a coach,” Wootton said. “They’re still going to go for another 40 minutes. I see how hard they’re working and that motivates me as a coach.”
Wootton, who is starting his ninth year teaching and coaching, will coach volleyball for the first time. He followed Roy King at Texico High for the 2002-03 girls basketball season, but fell victim to budget cuts.
Wootton takes over a Lady Bronco team that went winless in district last season and is on its fifth coach in the last four seasons.
Elida, meanwhile, went to the Class 1A regional tournaments and fell just one victory short of a state tournament appearance. Chenault, the third-year coach of the Lady Tigers, thinks the Lady Broncos will work on closing the gap this season.
“They’ve got a group of freshmen and sophomores coming in that are tough,” Chenault said. “My niece is one of them.”
Wootton is hopeful his young team can make a leap toward district contention. The two coaches are working on a scrimmage for Thursday as each prepares for Aug. 28 openers (Floyd at Texico, Elida at Grady).
They’re neighbors and friends right now, but Wootton knows that all bets are off come next Thursday.
“It’s good that we can have good sportsmanship and be very courteous, but the bottom line is we’re both fighting for the same thing,” Wootton said. “We’re going to go at it no matter if they shared the gym with us or if we loaned them a bunch of volleyballs.”
Chenault said Elida’s gym should be ready by Monday. The gym is receiving a new floor, new seats, a new air conditioning and heating system, and renovations to the lobby and concession. The low ceilings, however, will stay an Elida trademark.
“That’s the way we like them,” Chenault said. “That’s an inside advantage right there.”