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The Orion

New president to lead women’s volleyball club

The Chico State women's club volleyball team poses for a picture with coach Tommy Gott. Photo courtesy of Cat Williford.

First-year presidents of any organization, be it a country, company or club, have their work cut out for them.

Cat Williford, a junior history major, is taking over the top-tier position for the Chico State women’s club volleyball team this year. The outside hitter is one of six returning players for the competitive club team that is trying to reload its roster for another season in the Northern California Collegiate Volleyball League.

Despite a last-place finish in league play this spring, the team was able to overcome injuries and finish on a positive note with a .500 record at the National Collegiate Club Volleyball Championships April 3–5 in Reno, Nevada. The team knocked off big-name schools such as the University of Kansas and the University of Southern California at the tournament.

“I think we struggled in the beginning but then once the season went on, we got closer and so we had a feel for each other,” said Teresa Young, a sophomore defensive specialist and the club’s treasurer.

“Nationals is when we really clicked,” Williford said. “I think we played our best of the season at nationals. Each day we played better and better.”

The team is coached by Tommy Gott, a six-year assistant for the Chico State women’s NCAA volleyball team.

Williford and Young said they love being guided by the knowledgeable Gott.

“(He is) one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” said Williford, who has been playing volleyball for eight years. “He’s there for us on and off the court. Tommy knows how to coach girls and coach us well. He’s not just a great coach but a great person.”

“Nothing he said was negative,” Young said. “It was all positive and about what we could do better.”

The team plays matches against fellow Northern California Collegiate Volleyball League North division members Sonoma State, UC Davis and University of Nevada, Reno. League matches are supplemented with a midseason crossover tournament that allows North teams to play teams in the South division, such as Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara University, Stanford University, UC Berkeley and San Jose State.

The team spends the fall semester with informal open gyms, one week of tryouts and many weeks of practice. The team returns to Chico about a week early for spring semester to train together before jumping into the season, which runs from late January to early April.

Tryouts will be held in late October or early November, depending on Gott’s availability to view potential newcomers, Williford said. Because the club is primarily self-funded, players are required to pay approximately $500 out of pocket. The money goes toward travel costs, hotel lodging, tournament entrance fees as well as jersey and equipment costs.

This season, the team will fly to the Northern California Collegiate Volleyball League national tournament, which is being held in Kansas City, Missouri. The team flew to Dallas two years ago.

“Nationals is seriously the best thing I’ve done in my college career,” Williford said. “It’s so much fun to see non-California talent.”

Both the returners stress that their club requires commitment and is not for the faint of heart. New members need to be ready to devote at least two nights a week to practice and give up most of their weekends during the spring semester for matches.

“People need to understand that the club team is not intramurals,” said Young.

With a veteran coach, dedicated returners and dozens of new players coming to open gyms, the women’s club volleyball team is in good hands.

Nick Reddy can be reached at [email protected] or @NickIsReddy on Twitter.

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