Sophomore digs position on volleyball team, contributes to team success

Varsity sports are frequently dominated by upperclassmen who have both the skill level and experience to eclipse younger players, but sometimes a young player demonstrates the ability to earn their spot on the team.

Sophomore Coco Gillett started on the varsity volleyball team as a freshman last year. Even with all the older girls who played alongside her, she never felt intimidated by them and has proven herself on the court.

“The girls are bigger and a lot scarier, but I have gotten used to it,” Coco said. “It changes my mental state when I’m playing. When I’m in the back row and there is a 6’4” girl hitting I think; ‘I’m going to pass this girl and shock everybody.’ I’m a sophomore that nobody knows about and it’s kind of cool because I can show everyone what I can do.”

Although Coco is one of the youngest on the varsity volleyball team, she has earned the respect of the juniors and seniors and brings a lighter side to the practices while staying focused on the sport.

“Coco’s really young, and I feel like it’s hard to be a young leader,” senior Natalie Buban said. “Even with being so young and not being as mature as some of the older girls she’s done a great job with being leader. I hope she continues to stay positive and pursue what she loves.”

Coco has been on the varsity team for a year now and has had the chance to get to know everyone and learn what they’re like on both the court and the classroom. Surrounded by good influences and good players, volleyball’s a great place to find long-term friends and role models.

“I look up to Natalie,” Coco said. “She’s a senior and she’s also an outside hitter like me. I try to be like her because she always works hard no matter if we’re in the gym or not. If there is something going on with me, she always is the first one to check up on me and make sure I am okay. She’s a great leader for me and I try to follow in her footsteps.”

Coco has played volleyball for four years, first starting with a Houston team and then playing in high school. Transitioning between coaches can sometimes be a complicated process, but Coco feels that she has benefited from each team she has played with.

“I feel like Coach Davis has really made Bryan High volleyball similar to my club volleyball and how it’s really competitive,” Coco said. “I know the girls are all committed to playing, and we all love to win and work hard. It shows people’s personalities that you can’t see during school – that brings us together and makes it fun.”

In addition to the personal goals Coco has dreams of playing volleyball in college for Texas Tech or Minnesota, winning district, and being the best leader, teammate, and player that she can be, her coach also pushes her to succeed.

“My hope for Coco is that she continues to mature as a leader,” Varsity Coach Ashley Davis said. “I hope that she continues to love the game of volleyball and that she is able to fulfill her personal goals. I expect that she will become an all-state player by her senior year and will receive multiple all-district awards. Ultimately, I hope she is able to obtain her goal of becoming a Division I volleyball player.”

Coco has earned her spot on the the varsity volleyball team and continues to prove herself every day, whether it’s in class or on the court and receive the support of her teammates and coach

“Volleyball has helped me learn that it’s okay to make mistakes,” Coco said. “I have learned to shake mistakes off and move on because volleyball has changed my mental state and made me a better player.”

Volleyball has taught Coco many things that she will forever remember and use in her day-to-day life. She will continue to learn and improve on herself and in whatever sport she chooses to pursue in life.

“I have learned that everybody has a side that you don’t know about, so you can’t just judge someone by how they look,” Coco said. “You have to actually get to know them and see what they are about. They could be really quiet in class, but then they step on the court and they could be the best player out there. I have learned to treat everyone the same.”