Back with the Troups: Former Tiger volleyball player Savannah Barnett takes over as head coach

Published 1:07 pm Friday, May 31, 2024

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When the 2024-25 high school volleyball season gets underway, there will be a new face in charge of Troup High’s program. Troup alumni and former volleyball player Savannah Barnett is completing a full circle moment as she takes charge of the program that did so much for her in her youth.

“I did think about it for a few days, just because I am a teacher at a different school, and I’m also in school myself at Lagrange College, I’m getting my specialist degree, so I had a lot of other things going on outside of volleyball, but then I was like, ‘What the heck, let’s go ahead and do it,’” Barnett said with a chuckle. “I wasn’t thinking about coaching just because all I wanted to do was play, but as I got older and I got out of high school and decided not to play in college, I knew that I still wanted to be involved with the sport.”

I always knew that I wanted to stay involved. And once I graduated high school and went to college and everything, I started coaching, then just as JV coach, and I coached around with a few clubs and things like that.”

From 2013-2017 Barnett was a key figure for the Troup volleyball program as a player, starting in all four seasons with the Tigers. Barnett learned a lot about the game of volleyball and being a leader during her time playing for Jodi Dowden.

“I had a really good coach in Jodi Dowden, and I’m actually really good friends with her daughter, so she was more like a second mom to me,” Barnett said. “She taught me so much about the game of volleyball.

“The group of girls that I played with, we played together from elementary years up until I graduated high school, they were like my family. We spent all the time together playing volleyball, and then outside of volleyball. We were just a really close-knit group and I can tell the team we have now is the same way.”

This will not be Barnett’s first foray into the coaching ranks. She has previously coached travel volleyball, a short stint at Long Cane and served as the Troup JV coach last season. Barnett already has a relationship with the majority of the athletes on the team which will help this transition period.

“A lot of the girls I already knew from church and around town, and a lot of them I played with their siblings, so I know a lot of them and a lot of the parents already and it was a really good experience getting to coach some of them on JV last year,” Barnett said. 

Barnett is getting in on leading the program at the right time. The sport of volleyball has grown tremendously since Barnett was suiting up in blue and gold. 

“When I started playing, I was in elementary school, and it was unheard of to have club volleyball and there was really no volleyball around,” Barnett said. “Jodi Dowden helped get it all started and I’m honored to follow in her footsteps.”

The standards have been reset for Troup volleyball. Last year, the program made its first-ever state quarterfinals appearance and pushed Central Carrollton to the brink before falling in four sets with a spot in the semifinals on the line. The trick for Barnett now is to maintain the level of success that the program enjoyed under the previous coach Hutch Blair.

“High expectations are good, to have high expectations you want to achieve is good,” Barnett said. “So I think that’s just the best way to run it. If you want to feel like you’re actually achieving goals, you have to have high expectations, you know, you know, let the girls know that they are working for something more than just themselves. They’re working to build the program as a whole.

The team will also be searching for some new leadership in the form of captains and players. The team lost four seniors from last year’s team that helped set the standard. Luckily, the Tigers have a large senior class next year and Barnett will be looking to them to help lead the program.

“We actually are gonna have a good bit of seniors this year coming up. I think we have six,” Barnett said. “I think that they’re going to be the ones that are stepping up to lead. I know, we have a few that were on varsity last year that are coming back. And I expect them to you know, take over the reins and help the young girls that are just coming in to be successful.”

Even though the season is still a couple of months away, Barnett is already full speed ahead as the head coach. She has already held tryouts and is making progress alongside her team.

“A lot of the girls are returning for last year, so they know how I am and how I run the teams and what kind of things that go into that,” Barnett said. “We actually had a parent meeting earlier this week where we went over that a little bit more in-depth. We’ll start summer workouts the first week of June and we’ll kind of go into it more with the players then.”