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Hadley Carpenter (left).
Serving up volleyball lessons from experience posted on 10/01/2022

Hadley Carpenter, head coach of the Welches Schools girls’ volleyball team, can relate to the student athletes who can’t get a serve over the net. She was there once, in the same situation and even in the same gym, as Carpenter began her journey in volleyball as a Welches student.

 

“I stayed after practice every day so mad at myself because I couldn't get the underhand (serve) from halfway on the court,” Carpenter said. “It’s fun to see the progression that they make and it’s interesting for me to think back that I was the same way. I had never played before, just like these girls.”

Carpenter, who grew up on the Mountain and attended the Welches Schools from 2011-13, went on to play at Sandy High School, while also playing club level volleyball. She then went to Mt. Hood Community College to get an associate’s degree, and now works as an educational assistant at Welches Schools.

She started coaching during the coronavirus pandemic, which offered some challenges such as organizing carpools, no parents or fans inside during games (games could be viewed online), only traveling close by and not shaking hands with opponents. That led to a surprising development this year, as the team can finally travel together by bus to their away games.

“I couldn’t figure out why the girls were so excited about the buses on the first day when we were talking; they had to carpool the last two years,” Carpenter said. “It’s nice to just be able to get on a bus and go.”

“It’s exciting that the parents get to come and we get to interact with them,” she added.

This season also brings a familiar face to the sidelines, with Becky Fortune serving as her assistant coach. That’s a turnabout for Carpenter, as Fortune was her coach during her years on the team.

“I’m really enjoying it,” Fortune said. “It’s just so cool to know that somebody I coached liked it enough to come back.”

Both coaches noted that they focus on the basics of the game, while seeing the team as a great way for students on the Mountain to make some friends and have an activity to do after school. But their efforts are also resulting in continued enjoyment of the sport, with four Welches Schools graduates playing on the Sandy High School team.

“I’m like a proud parent, I think,” she added. “I’m just so glad she’s back and doing this. It’s a great connection with the girls. To come full circle and now be sharing that again is pretty cool.”

The current program at Welches Schools features 16 girls, including two sixth graders, on two teams, one varsity and one junior varsity. The team typically plays one home game each week, with the season ending on Wednesday, Oct. 19. The schedule of games can be found on the school’s website, https://www.oregontrailschools.com/Domain/16.

By Garth Guibord/MT

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