September 25, 2012

Girls’ volleyball is a new sport for Ocracoke youth

Ocracoke School has a new sports program for its students.  Volleyball for middle and high school girls began when school started, and games are in full swing until mid-October.

Athletic Director Charles Temple was at the stats table during a recent home game in the new gym with Wanchese for the middle school and Bear Grass Charter School, near Williamston, for the high school.

“It’s going really well,” he said as he kept score for the middle school girls’ team, who bested Bear Grass in the match.  “Give them a couple of years and we’ll be pretty dominant. They have a bunch of skills to learn.” 

For each match, the teams play two best-of-three sets.

Jessica Caldwell and Allie Arter are the coaches for the middle school girls.  Both have played volleyball.

“It’s a great group of girls,” Arter said.  “They’ve worked really hard at it, and they like it.”  As of Sept. 12, the middle school girls were 3 and 3.

Mary McKnight , the current the high school girls’ coach, will be leaving and Temple will soon take over as coach.

“It’s our first season ever,” McKnight said, watching the team warm up. “So far, we won a set but not a match.  The thing about the athletes here is they’re very coachable.  You don’t have to ask them twice to do anything.”

Kari Styron, the rental manager with Ocracoke Island Realty, assists with the coaching and played competitively in college.  She still holds the record at the University of Virginia for service aces, she said.

“We’re all very proud of them,” Styron said, noting that it’s good for the island to have another sport for the kids in addition to basketball, which has been an Ocracoke institution for decades, cross-country, which was begun last year by art teacher Kitty Mitchell, and baseball, which completed its second season this spring.

Community organizers have also been working on raising money to acquire land on which to build a baseball field on the land west of Howard’s Pub.

The new Ocracoke School Principal Laura Kelly stopped in to watch the volleyball action.

“The girls are playing so well together as a team,” she observed. “They’re growing. It’s exciting to watch this first year—for the community and the school.”

Kaylee Gaskins, an eighth-grader who plays with the middle school Dolphins, smiled as she left the gym and said she’s enjoying volleyball.

Her mother, Janet Gaskins, said it’s an exciting sport to watch.

“It’s great that they have another sport to play,” Janet said. “For so long it has been just basketball and now they have more sports.”

The last game for the middle school will be Oct. 22, and the high school girls will have a tournament Oct. 15 to 17.

The school will be placing all the sport schedules and other activities on its website at

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