By Rubin E. Grant
Mountain Brook didn’t have to look far to find its new volleyball coach.
Assistant coach Mattie Gardner was elevated to the head coaching job April 8, receiving approval from the Mountain Brook Board of Education.
Gardner has been with the Spartans’ volleyball program since 2017 and served as a varsity assistant the past two seasons, while retiring head coach Vickie Nichols was leading Mountain Brook to state championships in 2019 (Class 7A) and 2020 (Class 6A).
“We are excited for Coach Gardner to implement her leadership and vision as she begins her tenure as head coach of our outstanding volleyball program,” Mountain Brook athletics director Benny Eaves said in a statement. “Her belief in developing, encouraging, and inspiring female student-athletes to reach their full potential is evident, and her passion for the game of volleyball is infectious.”
Gardner led Mountain Brook’s freshman volleyball team to the Birmingham metro championship in 2017 and guided the JV team to the most single-season wins in school history in 2018. She then spent the past two years as Nichols’ top assistant.
“I’m so honored, humbled, and excited for the opportunity to lead this elite program,” Gardner said. “My vision is to continue our success on the court but also develop a family culture that prioritizes building close-knit relationships between and among our players and coaching staff.”
Gardner starred at Charlotte Country Day School in Charlotte, North Carolina, before earning a volleyball scholarship to Samford University. She played as a defensive specialist/libero for the Bulldogs from 2013 to 2017 and served as team captain in her junior and senior seasons. During her collegiate career, Samford won two Southern Conference championships and made two NCAA Tournament appearances.
Gardner graduated summa cum laude from Samford with a bachelor’s degree in secondary English and language arts education. She completed her student-teaching at MBHS before joining the English faculty full-time in August 2017.
“I know and love the community of Mountain Brook, and I’m most looking forward to giving our girls the best experience possible,” Gardner said. “I want them to love being a part of the volleyball program from seventh grade through senior year and adore their time here.”
Mountain Brook has established itself as one of the state’s volleyball powerhouses in recent years, clinching five state titles from 2014 to 2020. Eaves believes Gardner will continue the winning tradition.
“Coach Gardner possesses strategic and technical knowledge of the game and has experience playing and coaching in high-pressure situations,” Eaves said in the statement. “Our future is incredibly bright with her at the helm of our program.”