New Caston volleyball coach Taylor McFarland has a rebuilding project underway in Fulton.
The young coach has the great fortune of having an all-around standout in Haley Hoover to help lead the way in Year 1.
Hoover, a 5-foot-8 senior, does it all for the Comets as an outside hitter and defensive specialist.
The Comets are off to a 3-7 start to the season. They’ll take a 1-0 Midwest Conference record into Saturday’s home match against South Newton and will try to avenge a loss in Tri-County Invitational play to the Rebels.
“We started off kind of rough, but we’re getting there, we’re getting better,” Hoover said. “We’re working on teamwork, but I think we’ll get there. It might take us awhile.”
Hoover said she’s enjoyed playing for her new coach.
“I like her a lot. She’s pushed us a lot,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot from her. I’m happy that she’s came and coached at Caston.”
Hoover added the future of the program is bright as long as the younger players work hard.
“I think the program will get better. It’ll take some time and people have to work really hard. It’ll take time to build it back up but we’ll get there.”
The following is a question-and-answer session with Hoover.
Q. Of the sports you play, which is your favorite? Why?
A. Volleyball obviously because it is a challenge for me. You have to be smart, quick and strong to play the game well and it’s something you constantly have to work at. I also love that it is a team sport. You become so close to people on your team and share the same love for the game and I think that’s awesome.
Q. How did you first get started in sports? At what age?
A. I started T-ball when I was 3 and played up until I was 13. My mom also coached volleyball and track at Caston for a few years when I was younger and I’d always tag along for practices and watch, sometimes even play with them.
Q. Do you have any family members who played sports?
A. Yes, my dad [Doug] played for Caston. My mom [Sonia] played basketball and was involved in gymnastics in Fort Wayne. My cousins Monica, Kegan and Trevor Hoover all played sports at Caston too.
Q. How do you feel you’ve improved as an athlete since you first started playing?
A. I feel I’ve obviously become a much stronger all-around player from when I first started. I’ve learned a lot from all of the camps I’ve gone to. This year specifically I feel I’ve become a much more supportive team leader.
Q. What experiences have you had in sports have made you the athlete you are today?
A. I’ve had a lot of great experiences and bad. I believe I learned the most from the bad, though, because it made me always want to do better and not make the same mistakes. I’ve made a lot of new friends throughout the years playing and that has definitely made me a better person and team player.
Q. What is something that not everyone knows about you?
A. I love music and singing. Besides volleyball, I always spend my free time listening to music.
Q. What is your favorite memory of playing sports at your school?
A. It’d be a toss up between my freshman year and last year, my junior year, in volleyball. Freshman year I got to play varsity and play with all of the girls I looked up to. Last year Marissa Hicks was a senior and she always made everything fun and I miss her craziness this year. I’ve had a lot of amazing memories from throughout the years though.
Q. What are your goals for your future? Do you plan on attending college?
A. I plan on attending college to study business and hopefully play college volleyball. It’s always been a dream of mine to play college ball.
Beau Wicker is the sports editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.