Sixth sense: Senior’s leadership helps set team up for success

Megan Krenek

After four years of being on the varsity volleyball team, leadership and teamwork are almost like sixth senses for senior Coco Gillett. With each passing year, Coco has gained experience and responsibility, helping her gain recognition at the collegiate level and respect on the team.

 “This year we started with very few girls that had experience playing at the varsity level,”  varsity coach Chelsie Lemley said. “Coco was put into a position where she had to lead early and teach fast. She has done a great job filling the shoes of the girls we lost at graduation. Our girls have improved immensely since August 1, and it comes with the help of the veterans on the court.”

Being a leader on the team means that players can’t just focus on themselves but also must make sure everyone else on the team is ready both physically and mentally. 

“I would say my greatest strength is being a leader because I do really well with bringing everyone together,” Coco said.  “Especially when we are down. I want to make sure everyone feels equal and let them know that they have a role on this team.”

Coco’s experience affects her teammates in a positive way that will surely leave an impact on her underclassmen. 

“She’s always bringing other people up and always thinking ahead,” junior varsity player Megan Vaughn said. “She’s just a great leader on the team,”

Being the center of attention on the court is hard and so is living up to the standard as a role model.

“In the two years I have been here she has been a six-rotation player that has grown with experience on the floor,” Lemley said. “Learning how to play under pressure and be able to make big plays when we need them can only come from experience.”

Coco will graduate in December and begin school at Stephen F. Austin State University in the spring and then will start playing volleyball in the fall of 2020.

“When I went to my official visit at SFA, everybody there was super kind and they all kind of knew what they were doing,” Coco said. “It just felt right.” 

Coco has learned throughout the years that when she gets down and notices a mistake instead of being hard on herself she should instead use it as a learning experience. 

“Freshman year, every single time I made a mistake on the court, I was in my head telling myself I shouldn’t be doing that,” Coco said. “I did not like making mistakes, but now I am open to making mistakes because that’s how you get better as a player. I feel more confident now than my freshman year and overall, I’ve gotten better on and off the court. I’ve improved on how to act and what to say or what not to say.”

Coco pushes herself to take each game in stride and live in the moment. 

“My goal for the team is to stay on track to win the district championship,” Coco said. “The playoffs will figure themselves out, so we’re focusing on building bonds and going all out in the games now.”