Posted On: 11/2/18 8:00 PM

As we are in the heat of the state tournament, I want to take a moment to reflect on a team that, while they are not in the tournament, has had their own Cinderella season. Brown Deer High School is definitely not known for their volleyball, but first-year varsity head coach Amanda Marks and a team of dedicated and determined young women are looking to change that.

This past summer when Coach Marks first met with the girls, they focused on fundamentals. After 4 years coaching at DSHA, Coach Marks is no stranger to competition and talented athletes. She said at Brown Deer, while there was a lack of fundamentals, they were not short on heart.

So, during contact days and after the team was picked, they got to work! Athletes focused on learning the game. From the biggest ideas to the most minute details. Their desire to learn and motivation to do well is exactly the mindset that a coach needs to develop a program basically from the ground up, and these athletes provided just that.

In a conversation with Coach Marks, she said, “We established early on in the season that this team was going to be different than last year, and one that competes. We were DETERMINED to do so. We wanted to compete with our opponents; we wanted them to walk away and spread the word that there’s a new and improved Brown Deer volleyball, and to expect to have to work against us. And we did that!”

The team saw many successes throughout the season. They took 5th at the West Allis Central Invite and 2nd at the Cudahy Invite. Their biggest moment though was getting ranked 9th in their regional (as opposed to 13th last year) and then going on to sweep Milwaukee School of Languages (Ranked #8) in their first playoff match. This was the first postseason win for the Lady Falcons in quite a long time! Though they did not advance after their next match, their first-round win was one for the record books!

While this was truly a team effort, there were some key players on the team this year that made a huge impact throughout the season. The Falcons had three captains who were leaders physically, mentally, and emotionally for the rest of their teammates. Mattie Schimenz (Outside Hitter)  is just an all-around athlete who could adapt and learn the game quickly. She was a versatile player who was utilized by Coach Marks all of the time. Michaela Drake (Outside Hitter) brought strength to the mental side of the game. She is a tough player who is smart and efficient with the ball. Molly Pierson, their libero, led the backcourt fiercely and proved a great base for the team to build on. She led through action and kept the team motivated.

Two additional players who had an impact were middle blocker Kailey Stafford and Imani Parr. Kailey provided some major blocks for the Falcons and grew leaps and bounds throughout the season. Imani is the definition of grit. She grew an immense amount from the beginning of the season and developed into a really smart player who the team depended on to make plays.

This group of athletes and coaches is the definition of what a team is. They worked hard, set goals, gave it their all, learned a lot, and came out successful as a cohesive unit. As we are in the midst of the state tournament, it is important to take a step back and realize how amazing the successes of smaller programs can be and the impact they can have on the volleyball community.