By Rubin E. Grant
Cynthia Padgett didn’t have any desire to become a head coach.
With her husband, Scott, being the men’s head basketball coach at Samford University and three teenage athletes at home, Padgett was content being an assistant coach for the Homewood High School girls volleyball team.
But when Krimson Revis, who led the Patriots to the Class 6A North Super Regional in each of her two seasons as head coach, decided to concentrate on the volleyball program at Homewood Middle School, where she teaches, Padgett was asked to become the head coach at the high school.
Padgett was reluctant, even though she had been the Patriots’ assistant coach for two years under Revis.
“I wanted to spend most of my time, attention and energy as a mom,” Padgett said. “But then this came about unexpectedly. I never looked at becoming a head coach.”
Her husband talked her into it.
“He said, ‘You know the game, you know the girls and you love volleyball,’ so I accepted,” Padgett said.
A Family Thing
Padgett still plans to attend as many of her children’s games as she can. Her oldest child, Logan, who just graduated from Homewood in May, will be a freshman basketball player at Samford, playing for his dad. Her other son, Lucas, a high school junior, will be the starting center on Homewood’s football team this fall, and he plays basketball for the Patriots.
Her daughter Layla, an eighth grader, will be playing volleyball for Revis at the middle school.
“She loves volleyball,” Padgett said. “I didn’t know how much she loved it until she got to middle school. We never pushed any of our children into sports. We kind of just let them decide on their own.”
Padgett played volleyball at Kentucky in the late 1990s, where she met Scott, who played on the Wildcats’ 1998 NCAA basketball championship team.
She loves being part of a sports family.
“Our favorite thing is being active, going from one sport to the next,” Padgett said. “We go from college basketball, to high school basketball, to high school football and middle school volleyball.
“We’ve made it a point to be really encouraging and always to have dinner together, even though we might eat at 9:30 p.m. We want to make sure we know what’s going on in each other’s sport.”
Patriots’ 2019 Outlook
Padgett had worked at Hall-Kent Elementary for the past seven years but is now at the high school. The summer has been full of activity as she prepares for her first season. “It’s been busy but good,” she said.
The Patriots will have a young but experienced team. They graduated only one senior off their 2018 team – middle hitter Alejandra Loo – and will have only two seniors this season.
“It’s really nice to say we have a young veteran team,” Padgett said. “They are a lot of fun. As a volleyball fan, I love watching them. They play with high energy and don’t quit. They are tenacious.”
The seniors are outside hitter Gretchen Kellen and right side hitter Kassidy Schnoer. They have been on the varsity since they were sophomores and will provide senior leadership.
Sisters Abby and Jane Wilson lead a strong group of juniors. Abby is a setter and Jane a defensive specialist. “Abby has found her niche and confidence as a setter,” Padgett said, “and Jane is a solid player.”
Junior outside hitter Alex Hershbine is an “all-around solid player,” Padgett said.
Junior middle blocker Xeo Jenkins is playing on the varsity for the first time. “She’s on the smaller side of hitters, but she’s really instinctive,” Padgett said. “She knows where the ball is.”
Defensive specialist Emma Johnson, another third-year varsity player, and EmmaLee Floyd, a defensive specialist and outside hitter, round out the juniors.
“Emma Johnson is playing with such confidence,” Padgett said. “EmmaLee is a great all-around player. She was with us as a freshman but sat out last year with some nagging injuries. She will bring depth to the team this season.”
The Patriots also boast five talented sophomores – Haley Callaham, MacKenzie Yoakum, Olivia Brown, Lily Janas and Olivia Outman, a transfer from McAdory.
“Haley is an aggressive, no fear defensive player,” Padgett said. “Olivia Brown is a returning middle blocker. She is really special. MacKenzie is a right side hitter who is left-handed, which is a luxury not all teams have. Lily is a natural athlete with a great swing for a middle hitter.
“Olivia Outman will be setting. It’s hard to come in and fit into a group that’s already established, but the other girls have welcomed her, and it’s been a smooth transition,” Padgett said.
Homewood opens the season Aug. 24, playing in a tournament at Briarwood.
“We haven’t set a hard goal for the season,” Padgett said. “Last year we made it to the Sweet 16 and the players are working toward making it farther. This team thinks it’s better than last year so they expect to go farther this year.”