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Murray Journal

Girls’ volleyball returning to Mount Vernon Academy for first time in nearly a decade

Jun 28, 2018 11:58AM ● By Carl Fauver

Mount Vernon Academy’s first girls’ volleyball team since 2009 will play home matches in the spacious gym they acquired when the school moved a year ago. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

More changes are coming for Murray’s Mount Vernon Academy athletic department, thanks in large part to the school’s move — a year ago — from its historic Vine Street location to the former Christ Lutheran Church School (240 East 5600 South). 

The new location, constructed in 1993, features a much larger grass area outside for soccer and cross country practice. But more importantly, for Patriot sports, the new site also includes a full-size gymnasium. 

Mt. Vernon’s antiquated previous campus had such a small gym, teams were forced to play indoor “home” games at off-campus locations. Following the move, last winter the Patriot boys’ basketball team enjoyed the luxury of playing actual on-campus home games, for the first time in school history. 

And now this fall, the Patriot girls’ volleyball team will do likewise, as Mt. Vernon resurrects that program for the first time in nine years. 

“In a school our size, we don’t always know from one year to the next whether we will field a team,” said Mt. Vernon Principal (and frequent coach of various teams) Mike Lambson. “We normally poll our kids ahead of time, and when there is enough interest to put a team together, we do it. We’ve not had girls’ volleyball since 2009. I suspect part of the reason for that was the lack of gym space we had (at the previous campus).” 

However, fielding any team requires more than the space to do it. Qualified coaching is also required. And that’s where Mt. Vernon caught a break this spring, when Kristen Henry and her husband decided to enroll four (and possibly five) of their seven children at the school. 

“I have been home-schooling the kids, but this year we decided to search around for private schools in the area,” Henry said. “After finding Mt. Vernon, four of the kids said they definitely want to attend. The fifth is still deciding. So I will continue to home school at least two of the kids and maybe the third.” 

More importantly though for the Mt. Vernon athletics department, the oldest of the five Henry children enrolling at the school this fall, Emily, will be a junior, and is a volleyball player. 

“I’ve played three years of church volleyball and love it,” she said. 

Emily also doesn’t mind that her mother, a former collegiate volleyball player, will be her head coach. 

“I played high school volleyball in southern New Mexico and then walked on to play for one season at Western New Mexico University,” Kristen Henry said. “Later I served an LDS mission in Seattle, got married and began a family, earned a degree at LDS Business College and started home-schooling our kids.” 

The one thing Kristen has never done in the midst of that life path is coach volleyball. But when she learned Mt. Vernon was considering reviving the program, she stepped forward. 

“It’s certainly something new,” Kristen added. “Emily is the only one of these girls who has played any volleyball at all. So we are starting with the basics. But they seem to be having fun and are actually picking up the game more quickly than I expected. I’ve been pleasantly surprised.” 

As of press time, the Mt. Vernon girls had only gathered for a couple of volleyball practices. Their pace will pick up through the rest of the summer as the fall season approaches. 

“Because we did not have a team last year, our girls’ volleyball team will not be eligible to play in the postseason, even if they surprise people and play very well,” Lambson said. “But I’m hoping we can continue to interest enough girls in the sport that volleyball can remain one of our extracurricular activities.” 

Lambson also added if the Patriots’ volleyball revival takes off, it might also lead to a return of girls’ basketball for the small Murray school. 

“Our team goals this season won’t be about wins and losses as much as they are about learning the sport of volleyball,” Henry said. “I want the girls to learn what each position on the floor is supposed to do. Then they can begin to specialize their skills for certain positions. But mostly I just want to help provide them with an activity they enjoy. A few of these girls ran track for Mt. Vernon, but for most of them, this is their first time to try organized athletics. I want it to be a good experience.” 

The coach’s daughter Emily added, “I’m not nervous about my mom coaching. She’s a good teacher. Mostly I’m just glad to have the team so I can get to know some of my new classmates before school starts.”