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Midvale Journal

New Hillcrest volleyball coach expected to build program, be role model

Jul 13, 2020 12:40PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Hillcrest High new head volleyball coach Melissa Guymon was so excited to begin her job and for the team to start up again that she set up practices for them.

When she learned the new sports facility on the school campus wasn’t quite completed, she wasted no time setting up open gym practices at a nearby middle school.

When an injury sidelined her from playing alongside the girls before the first practice, she reached out to get the help from athletic director Sally Williams, who coached the team from 2011-15.

“She’s awesome,” Williams said. “She’s got a lot of experience as a coach plus she’ll teach PE (physical education) at our school. She has good fundamentals and a solid knowledge of volleyball. She has plans to build a youth program to help players before they enter the high school level. She’s energetic, outgoing and she’s about the team excelling on and off the court by building relationships and character. She’ll be a great role model for these student-athletes.”

Guymon is holding open gym three times per week this summer and hopes to add weightlifting once Hillcrest’s sports facility opens.

“We’re having open gym for girls who feel comfortable returning,” Guymon said. “The players seem motivated and want to get better. I’m hoping to get to know them better and get a feel of what our season will look like.”

Guymon’s appointment was made in late February when former four-year head coach Natalie Moss stepped down to spend time with family. The team had a few open gym practices in late February and early March before the “soft closure” of schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guymon grew up in St. George and played volleyball and basketball for Pine View High as well as for Southern Utah Volleyball Academy. Her senior year, she was named a Utah All-Star and member of her regional team. She played for Utah State University Eastern and received all-region honors her sophomore year before turning to coaching. 

As a coach, she guided Mountain West, Mountain Peak and Great Salt Lake clubs as well as Logan and Ridgeline high schools and was in the midst of holding tryouts at Glendale Middle School when Gov. Gary Herbert ordered school buildings to be closed.

As of press deadline, the Utah High School Activities Association hadn’t made a decision whether fall sports will be played, however Guymon is hopeful.

“We are tentatively planning to have tryouts Aug. 12-13 and hoping to have enough girls try out we’ll have four teams. Having a freshman team will strengthen our program. We could do a shorter season if that’s what UHSAA comes up with, but the important thing is we will play if we’re allowed to,” she said.

With the new sports facility, Guymon said there are plans to have the JV and freshman teams both play home games on Tuesdays or Thursday at 3:30 p.m., the sophomore team at 4:45 p.m. and varsity at 6 p.m.

Before tryouts, Guymon plans to hold a skills camp July 8-9 for potential players, including incoming ninth-graders.

“This will give everybody a chance to develop and play. It’s important for freshmen, sophomores and JV players to have these solid skills and improve so they will be able to play at the varsity level,” she said.

But Guymon just isn’t looking at skills with her team.

“Volleyball has one of the highest GPAs at the school. It’s extremely important that the student-athletes are diligent with their grades. I’ll regularly check in with any girls who are struggling, but already I’m impressed with them academically,” she said.

While she is aware that the team graduated six seniors last year, she said she hasn’t looked up much of last year’s team that went 9-8 in overall play before losing the first round of the state playoffs to Murray High.

“It’s nice not having a predisposition for tryouts or open gyms, but to look at the team with fresh eyes,” she said. “Volleyball is the best sport and is the ultimate team sport. Everyone has to be on the same page to have a team.”

She said that building relationships is important to the team, so in addition to team dinners, she hopes that they will be able to spend time together to build a sense of community both on and off the court.

“Volleyball is so much fun,” she said. “I’m excited to bring that to the team.”