Chetopa to combine with St. Paul for 2020 volleyball season
Chetopa has just four players signed up to play this season.
Chetopa High School made its first ever appearance in the state volleyball tournament last season.
“Looking into last year, we only had eight girls. Only six went to state,” says Chetopa head coach Jill Blackledge, “We knew we would be short on numbers”
With just four girls signed up to play this fall, the Hornets were faced with the possibility of not being able to play.
“I was really, really worried that I wouldn’t have a senior season,” says Chetopa senior Brali Conard, “That’s the most important time.”
“Most all the girls that play volleyball play softball,” Blackledge adds, “So them missing out on their softball season was heartbreaking, and I didn’t want to see the same thing happen just because we didn’t have enough to make a team.”
Chetopa has decided to team up with St. Paul this season to play as one “District 505” team.
“With the unique opportunity we have being in the same district, that was the easiest way that it presented itself,” says Keaton McCracken, St. Paul High School Athletic Director, “We were able to make that work.”
Blackledge will be the head coach of the program this season.
“We have two great coaches in our district,” says Jaunc Bradshaw, Chetopa High School Athletic Director, “They’re going to have a lot of say in what’s going on. They’re going to work real close together.”
The Chetopa girls will travel 40 minutes so St. Paul for practice four days per week.
They will host practice in Chetopa every other Friday.
“Me hauling four girls to St. Paul everyday versus trying to switch and bring 27 over, that was just the obvious decision,” Blackledge says.
“The biggest challenge that we’ve come across so far is scheduling,” McCracken adds, “We’re trying to make sure that we can an even number of home games here, and an even number of home games there.”
Regardless of what they have had to work through, both Chetopa and St. Paul are happy to make it work to give everyone the chance to play.
“My expectations are actually pretty high for our team,” Conard finishes, “I just hope we can live up to them. We have good athletes all around.”
“The overall goal is to get kids on the court,” McCracken finishes, “We want kids playing and we want kids doing the best they can. That was our driving factor behind the whole thing, making sure kids had the opportunity to get on the court.”
There will be 31 total girls in the combined program, giving the team an opportunity to play a varsity, junior varsity and freshman schedule.