Shop­pach named HS vol­ley­ball coach

Shop­pach takes over var­sity VB

The Saline Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By Tony Le­na­han tle­na­[email protected]­ton­

BEN­TON – Af­ter 17-year coach and Ben­ton Lady Pan­thers vol­ley­ball pro­gram starter Brandy Chum­ley stepped down to take the sev­enth-grade coach­ing du­ties, the Lady Pan­thers will have a fa­mil­iar face at the helm with long­time Ben­ton Ju­nior High ninth grade vol­ley­ball Coach Michelle Shop­pach ac­cept­ing the var­sity po­si­tion on Wed­nes­day.

Shop­pach takes over for Chum­ley, who went 284-116 with a state ti­tle at Ben­ton, af­ter spend­ing 11 sea­sons as the ju­nior high coach.

“Kind of some big shoes to fol­low, right,” Shop­pach asked rhetor­i­cally. “She’s been Coach of the Year, state cham­pi­onship, con­fer­ence cham­pion, so I bet­ter get my A-game go­ing in or­der to fol­low her. I’m ex­cited to be the coach. This is my home­town so it’s def­i­nitely on my bucket list. It’s nice to be able to mark some­thing off your bucket list.

“I’m ex­cited to work with the kids that are there and

that I’ve coached be­fore.

I’m glad to get to work with Coach (Rachel) Dod­son, my as­sis­tant coach be­cause it’s some­body I al­ready know, some­body that does a good job, some­body that has grad­u­ated from here and has won a state cham­pi­onship.”

Shop­pach ex­plained that Coach Heidi Cox, also the var­sity soft­ball coach, will re­main the eighth-grade vol­ley­ball coach and that she will hire a ninth-grade coach to take her old po­si­tion.

Not only will Shop­pach be chang­ing coach­ing du­ties, but she will change teach­ing du­ties as well.

“My teach­ing as­sign­ment will change from ca­reer de­vel­op­ment to health and PE, so I’ll be work­ing with the other Coach Chum­ley (Ben­ton girls basketball Coach Jerry),” Shop­pach said. “We al­ready have a very good re­la­tion­ship, so that’s nice. It’s like get­ting to change jobs, but not hav­ing to change houses.”

Feed­ing the the var­sity pro­gram with her play­ers for the past 11 years, Shop­pach will be re­cip­ro­cated.

“I just es­tab­lished a very good foun­da­tion for them,” Shop­pach said. “With skills, work habits, ex­pec­ta­tions, and I ex­pect them to the do the same as I tran­si­tion into the head coach. I don’t see that be­ing any dif­fer­ent. They pretty much know me and I know them to a large ex­tent.”

That foun­da­tion has led to three straight Cen­tral Arkansas Ju­nior High Con­fer­ence ti­tles, with a fourth likely ac­cord­ing to Shop­pach.

“We’ve had many more wins than losses,” she said. “We’ve won the con­fer­ence three years in a row and I don’t see the ninth grade giv­ing that up eas­ily, fight­ing for that fourth year in a row. And that’s go­ing against some pretty good com­pe­ti­tion. I’m very pleased with what we’ve done at the ju­nior high.”

As for her new var­sity du­ties, Shop­pach will stick with the Lady Pan­ther for­mula that has worked through­out the years, with just a lit­tle tweak­ing.

“I’ll do 90 per­cent of things the way Coach Chum­ley did them,” she said. “I’ll do 10 per­cent a dif­fer­ent way. She and I are on the same page 90 per­cent of the time. Coach­ing style is tweaked a lit­tle bit com­pared to hers. I’ll run my de­fense a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent. I’ll run the of­fense a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent. I’ll do a cou­ple dif­fer­ent things on the bench. It’s just tweak­ing. Not any big stuff. Stuff she and I have talked about for 11 years.”

Ben­ton Ju­nior High is def­i­nitely not Shop­pach’s only other stop as her vol­ley­ball ex­pe­ri­ence goes across states and lev­els, spend­ing 30 years coach­ing and teach­ing kinder­garten through col­lege. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Ben­ton and then the Univer­sity of Cen­tral Arkansas, she had her first head-coach­ing job at Fair­field High School as the head vol­ley­ball and ten­nis coach.

Form Fair­field, Shop­pach moved to Mt. Pleasant, Texas, to be­come the head vol­ley­ball and basketball and then moved to the col­lege ranks as the head vol­ley­ball coach at South­ern Arkansas Univer­sity in Mag­no­lia. She went to the Univer­sity of Arkansas to get her doc­tor­ate in recre­ation ad­min­is­tra­tion, re­turned to the coach­ing ranks in Gar­land, Texas, and then again the head vol­ley­ball at Richard­son, Texas, be­fore re­turn­ing home to Ben­ton to take over the ju­nior high pro­gram.

And again, Shop­pach will be very fa­mil­iar with a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence re­turn­ing to the var­sity.

“There will be seven se­niors back,” she said. “Coach Chum­ley wanted to be there for those seven se­niors. She was look­ing for­ward to it, but how of­ten does an op­por­tu­nity open up for coaches? Some­times you let it pass you by and the op­por­tu­nity doesn’t come back for 10 years. She felt like she needed to take that op­por­tu­nity, even though she wanted to be there with these seven se­niors.

“I think I’ve coached all seven se­niors dur­ing club vol­ley­ball sea­son (Saline County Chaos) so I have a rap­port with them on the court, not just as the ju­nior high coach. I feel like that’s go­ing to pay div­i­dends. We’ve got seven kids that will step in and they un­der­stand that their play­ing time will not be given to them. It will have to be earned on a daily ba­sis. They know the ju­niors, sopho­mores and fresh­men will have opportunit­ies for play­ing time also. I will not be shy about mov­ing kids in and out if I’m not pleased with what’s go­ing on.”

TONY LE­NA­HAN/THE Saline Courier

For­mer Ben­ton Ju­nior High Coach and now cur­rent Lady Pan­thers var­sity Coach Michelle Shop­pach gives out di­rec­tion dur­ing the Lady Pan­ther Vol­ley­ball Camp Thurs­day at the Ben­ton Ju­nior High. Af­ter 30 years of coach­ing at dif­fer­ent lev­els, Shop­pach was named the Ben­ton var­sity coach on Wed­nes­day.

TONY LE­NA­HAN/THE Saline Courier

Ben­ton Coach Michelle Shop­pach goes over drills at the Lady Pan­ther Vol­ley­ball Camp Thurs­day at Ben­ton Ju­nior High. Shop­pach was named the var­sity vol­ley­ball head coach on Wed­nes­day.

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