By Corey Poole
Nikki Murphy teaches Project Lead the Way (PLTW) engineering classes and math at Natchitoches Central High School. When one of her students, a transfer from a school in Texas, began asking her to start a volleyball team, Murphy felt she was ready to get back into coaching after a few years on hiatus.
“Next thing I know, here we are,” she said.
The team participated in mini-camps through Northwestern State once a week beginning in January to learn the skills they needed. Murphy held tryouts at the end of April and the team began practicing at the end of May.
There are 27 girls on the team and while they can only play the JV schedule this upcoming school year, Murphy has her sights set on varsity.
“I’m too competitive to not go varsity our second year,” she said. “I have so many girls that are interested in playing.”
Murphy began coaching when she was 18-years-old. She played under Coach Emma Boozman at NCHS in basketball and also played softball. After 20 years of teaching and coaching basketball and softball for the school system and travel baseball, she’s ready for a new challenge.
“Volleyball is new and different to me,” she said. “It’s something I can start and work with the girls to build the team up from the ground floor.”
Not a complete stranger to the sport, Murphy’s family built a sand volleyball court at their home after playing the game at beaches as they took vacations.
“This sport is something we don’t have in Natchitoches and it’s new to the kids. They’re interested in it and working really hard at it.”
One of her assistant coaches, Stacey DiFrancesco, is a 2015 graduate of NSU. She was on the volleyball team that won the first ever Southland Conference for the university 2 years ago. At NCHS, she’s learning how to go from a player to a coach.
The second assistant coach Taylor Trichel graduated from NCHS in May. She will attend NSU in the fall, but asked Murphy if she could be a part of the volleyball team because she likes being around team sports.
Girls on the team include: Madison Thompson, Morgan Slaughter, Asia Dolliole, Madalyn Peddy, Alaina Metoyer, Carley Dark, Kasie Ramian, Alyssa Niette, Abbie Gandy, Hailey LaBom, Hannah Condi, Kristin Smith, Andrea Niette, Hannah Giddens, Alaina Lewis, Sarah Hicks, Delaney Coutee, Lyndee Litton, Makenzie Waxley, Colby Bonier, Kayla Metoyer, Jacharie King, Shey Hamilton, Christyn Babineaux, Janieya Bobb, Haley Franks and Regan Keen.