NEWLAND — Three Avery High School athletic programs will have new faces on the sidelines next season.
Avery High School has announced three new coaches for the 2019 season, as the girls basketball program will be coached by Allison Phillips, the Avery County wrestling program will be led by Matthew Dunn and the Lady Vikings volleyball program will be coached by Erika Eller.
For Phillips, the opportunity to take over a program is an opportunity that she relishes.
“It’s very surreal,” Phillips said. “As a player I never saw myself coaching, but clearly God had other plans. Seven years ago Coach Lyons brought me on as an assistant, which led to me taking over the JV program later that season. That first year was tough, but it really sparked something inside of me and I realized I loved coaching even more than I loved playing.”
In her new role, Phillips hopes that she can instill traits in her players that she learned on the court.
“As a player I learned a lot about hard work and being dedicated to my teammates,” Phillips said. “Those are qualities that I took with me long after I stopped playing high school basketball. Now as I look to take over the program, I want to ensure that every young woman that plays for me has a similar experience. Yes, I want to win a lot of games, but more than anything I want my players to learn the value of hard work and to be dedicated to something bigger than themselves. Playing basketball for Avery really shaped my character and I want to ensure that my players receive the same opportunity.”
For Dunn, the Avery County position was too tempting to pass up, despite being retired from coaching.
“I was blown away, not with the opportunity to be successful, rather a group of kids that had an old-school work ethic and hard-nosed approach to wrestling,” Dunn said. “When talking to the kids, they never spoke of titles or glory. Rather, they spoke of a love for the sport and an embrace of the grind that is rarely seen in this generation. It’s not an opportunity to win titles that drew me here; it was an opportunity for my kids to be around young men and coaches that approach this sport the way it is meant to be approached.”
Eller will take over a talented team that looks poised to make a run this season.
“I’m very eager about the possibilities that await this talented group of girls, and certainly appreciate having the opportunity to coach them,” Eller said. “My goal is to build a strong volleyball program at Avery through hard work, dedication and teamwork. We have already began open gym and conditioning for the upcoming season.”
One change Eller was quick to make is the add-on of Mason Morris to the role of JV coach.
“I am honored to be given the opportunity to join the program,” Morris said. “We have a talented group of girls to work with this year, and under the direction of Coach Eller and I, the team should have a successful season.”