Northside volleyball coach Lindsay Johnson said that she had a feeling before summer workouts that her Lady Patriots had a chance to do something special in 2017. Of course, a belief only means so much; it’s what Northside actually did with those high expectations that was remarkable.
The Lady Patriots had a season none involved with forget, which was highlighted by beating Columbus for the first time in program history. Northside’s five-set victory over the Lady Blue Devils gave the Lady Patriots the area tournament title, which was also the first in school history.
Thanks to her team’s unprecedented season, Johnson has been chosen as the 2017 All-Bi-City Volleyball Coach of the Year.
“Our goal every year is to win the area championship and make it to state, but I truly felt like before we started workouts that we had a shot at it,” Johnson said. “We worked hard, practiced at 5:30 in the morning and stayed late during the summer. They stood the test and were able to finally able to conquer that goal of beating Columbus.”
Johnson said the key to this year’s team was the camaraderie throughout the roster. As much work as Johnson organized for her players, several took the initiative to work on their game outside team practices. That extra time also led to players bonding more, which definitely strengthen the buy-in come gametime.
The team’s determination was never more evident than in the area tournament matchup with Columbus. Johnson explained that for so many years, Columbus High School was volleyball in the area. It started and stopped with the Lady Blue Devils, leaving everyone else to simply fight for second place.
That is, until the Lady Patriots changed things this year.
“I think a lot of it was a mental hump for us,” Johnson said. “I felt like if we were playing Columbus and they just didn’t have that Columbus jersey on, we could beat them talentwise. I felt like a lot of it was mental. Finally this year, this team did not care who they were about to play -- they always felt like they could win.”
Northside rode the big win over Columbus to a Class 4A semifinals appearance and an eventual fifth place finish in the classification. The work soon starts all over for Johnson’s players, but based on what she’s witnessed, she sees next year’s squad being able to build off 2017 and perhaps go even further.
“We lost three really good seniors who were really good kids and really good leaders,” Johnson said. “I think my senior class coming up as well as all the other kids are able to continue what we started, achieve what we have and even more.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports