State championships aren’t just a goal for Edgewood’s volleyball program; they’re an expectation.

The Wildcats have been in the state final three years running. They won it all in 2016 and 2017, so when they finished as the runners up in 2018, they were quite honestly disappointed. With the departure of Sellers Dubberley, who was the head coach for the last two seasons, Edgewood knew it had to bring in the big guns to replace him.

That’s where Hannah Josey stepped in. 

Although Josey was never a player herself, she has plenty of experience as a coach and has the taste of a state championship fresh in her mouth. After coaching basketball at East Memorial Christian for three seasons, Josey moved to being the volleyball coach at Eastwood Christian Academy. In just her second year at the helm, Eastwood won the AISA-A state championship, and now Josey is bringing that experience to the Wildcats.

“Thankfully we already have super talented girls, so I don’t have to do much — just maintain what they’ve already done,” Josey said. “That’s just props to the coach that I’m taking the spot of. I feel like he did a great job in training them and getting them ready. I get to step in and pick up where he left off.

“I know the expectations of being champions is here through all sports, and after coming off a state championship, I want to get back there.”

Josey has already hit the ground running, meeting with her players through summer workouts and tryouts. She also had a chance to get some one-on-one time with parents during Edgewood’s coaches meet-and-greet last Tuesday.

But what Josey has been most inspired by is her players’ commitment to the game. 

Despite junior varsity players not being required to attend summer workouts, Josey said she’s had a  large handful of JV players showing up.

“That’s awesome to see,” Josey said. “I’ve really gotten to know them through workouts and doing tryouts, and they seem to be a great group of girls. I just jumped right in and was able to get along with everybody.”

Although Josey describes herself as a more laid-back coach, she also knows the importance of their practice time now. Once volleyball season officially hits, there’s not a whole lot of time for development and practice with so many games every week.

“I always preach what you do in the offseason prepares you for the season,” Josey said. “I really stress putting in work. That way when you get to your season, you’re not going to be as tired. You’re going to have endurance and stamina to compete with all these other teams.” 

But according to Josey, physical toughness is just as important as mental toughness.

“I’m more of an encouraging type person,” she said. “If you make a mistake, that’s part of it. I don’t want them to get in their heads. That’s my whole thing is if you start playing in your head, you start playing worse because you’re still thinking about your mistakes. I really try to encourage the girls to shake it off and get back at it.” 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.