By Budd McLaughlin • Photos by Chris Jensen
Kristy Bohan is grateful to a middle school basketball coach for her success.
However, the Grissom senior is a volleyball player; one of the best in the state.
So, why is she thanking the basketball coach?
“He cut me from the team,” she said. “If he hadn’t cut me, I wouldn’t have played volleyball.”
But volleyball wasn’t a first choice. When she was cut, Kristy and her mom discussed other activities for her. Her mom suggested cheerleading but Kristy nixed that. Then volleyball was mentioned. Kristy had never played volleyball but was tall enough. So she tried out for the seventh-grade team.
Now, it would be a great story to write that she made the team and went on to stardom from there. However, Kristy didn’t make the team; but she became the team manager.
She learned a lot from the sidelines during matches and at practices that season and worked hard to prepare herself for eighth grade. She made the team and every other team after that – including the North team in the recent Alabama High School Athletic Association volleyball game as part of the AHSAA All-Star Week in July. The North lost but Kristy was named MVP.
“There were a lot of great players and it was really competitive,” she said. “It’ll get me ready for college since these were the best of the best.”
She quickly became one of the best herself. Kristy played some varsity games for Grissom as a freshman and earned a starting role as a sophomore – a rarity at the Class 6A power.
“She started very late (playing volleyball),” said Grissom coach Tanya Broadway. “But she came along strong and blossomed into a great volleyball player; I believe she’s one of the top five in the state.”
Kristy credits a former top five player with helping her come along. The player, however, was Jessica Lewis of rival Huntsville High. Lewis now plays for the University of South Alabama.
“Jessica Lewis made me a better player,” Kristy said. The two played club volleyball together. “She pointed out the little flaws.” She also said club volleyball helps prepare players for collegiate volleyball. “With club, you get used to playing with other players,” she said. “It’s volleyball at a high level.”
She’ll be taking her skills to the next level as well. Kristy has committed to the University of Montevallo. A former Huntsville High star, Becky Phelps, also is at Montevallo and, that is one of the reasons Kristy selected the Falcons. Another reason was Montevallo showed interest in Kristy.
“You can tell when (colleges) have an interest in you,” she said. “Montevallo was that way. Becky Phelps also said she is handling it (college sports and academics). And I liked it.”
Broadway said her senior should be able to handle it, too, and even crack the Falcon lineup.
“With her hard work and determination, she can step into that program and be a difference maker,” the coach said.
For this season, Broadway is counting on Kristy being a team leader and showing the ropes to her underclass teammates, just like the seniors helped her when she was coming up.
“She is a leader and I’m looking forward to her this year,” Broadway said. “She’s been instrumental with the younger kids.”
Kristy said the younger players come up to her and ask for help and the seniors “focus a lot on the younger girls.”
“We try to get them on the right track so they will be able to carry on the Grissom way and this is our last chance to make an impact.”
And it was Broadway who helped make an impact on Kristy as a freshman. Kristy was in just her second year playing the sport but didn’t think Broadway cared for her. You see, Broadway wasn’t pampering the new player. She was treating her like a member of a high school varsity team and expecting her to play like one.
“I thought she didn’t like me,” Kristy said. “But, of course, she was right. Eventually I realized ‘I can do this.’
“Mrs. Broadway has a way of pulling my best out of me.”
It seems to have worked, too. And some thanks as well to a middle school basketball coach.