A full circle moment: Former LaGrange volleyball player Mehgan Smith takes over as head coach

Published 8:00 am Saturday, March 9, 2024

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There is a new woman in charge of LaGrange High volleyball and she is a familiar face as the school promoted Mehgan Smith from assistant to head coach.

It is a full circle moment for Smith, who graduated from LaGrange High in 2009. Smith was a standout on the volleyball team during her junior and senior years.

“It really is a full circle moment. You have no idea how much this means because me playing volleyball was kind of an I wouldn’t say an accident, but I had been playing basketball since I was little and I didn’t start playing volleyball until high school,” Smith said. “

For the majority of her life basketball was the sport she knew and loved. Smith grew up in a basketball household and even cut her teeth coaching with AAU travel ball with her family, who have been her biggest inspirations. 

“My father, brother and I coached AAU basketball together for 7+ years before the (COVID-19) pandemic hit,” she said. “we were always that house on the street where kids would spend the night or we would have an extra kid at the table just randomly. So I learned about being a leader and just having compassion and to always look outside myself from my parents.”

Smith made the transition from basketball to volleyball during her sophomore and junior years of high school. It was love at first sight when she first hit the volleyball court for the first time.

Despite playing just two years, Smith got the chance to play in college. She took her talents all the way across the state to Paine College in Augusta, where she applied her craft for two seasons.

“I played college ball and learned so much during college,” Smith said. “I was just ecstatic to be around it and to be able to keep playing after high school. My freshman year of college was almost like making the NBA status for me because it felt so crazy to me to be able to play college volleyball.”

While she claims Augusta as her second home, Smith is truly at home in the LaGrange community. She grew up here, fell in love with volleyball here and knows what being a Granger is all about.

Smith has seen volleyball grow tremendously in this area over the last 15+ years. Now, she gets a real chance to push the sport even further into the future as a head coach.

“Volleyball wasn’t big like it so now when I was playing,” Smith said as she recollected about her playing days. “We didn’t have club ball like they have now. I would have loved to play on a club team when I was in high school.”

Smith has served as an assistant coach and head JV coach, but this is her first time juggling all the logistical aspects of leading a program.

“I’m already scheduling stuff and planning stuff and getting the wheels turning,” Smith said. “Next Tuesday is our first open gym and I’m excited to see what faces come out to these and the tryouts.”

While the volleyball season will not tip off until the fall, the world has already begun for Smith. The team is holding open gyms starting as early as next week and tryouts are set for early May.

She has spent the last three years with the LaGrange program soaking in information like a sponge. Any way she could find to better herself as a head coach, she found it. 

Smith has also learned a lot about herself during her time coaching volleyball so far and plans to apply those personal lessons to her time as a coach.

“I had coaches guys in basketball, so when Is started coaching volleyball it was the first time I had to coach girls and it has made me more gentle and it has taught me a lot about communication,” she said. “I have a passion for volleyball. I have a passion for kids. I have a passion for motivating them and I have come a long way in the last three years.”

The goals and aspirations are high for Smith. She wants to grow the program and win championships, but her main goals are much more simple. She wants the girls to prosper, flourish and blossom during their time on the volleyball courts.

“I want them to learn things about themselves that they did not know and volleyball just helped bring that out,” Smith said. “ want to provide an avenue for self-worth for these girls. And I want to use volleyball as that vessel.”

Smith is no interim and this is no springboard job for another opening. LaGrange volleyball is family to Smith and now she is ready to take her turn as matriarch of the program.

“When I was in school to be a Granger that meant a lot like that was a big thing. So to be the head coach at LaGrange High School is a big thing,” she said.