The Weatherford Lady Roos are rolling less than one week out from the start of District 3-6A competition, sporting an 18-10 record (as of Friday morning) with aspirations of making another deep playoff run like those of 2017 and 2018, when the team finished as a Class 6A regional semifinalist.
In addition to a number of returning playmakers from last year’s squad, Weatherford also has the benefit of a courtside leader with a proven track record of success.
Lady Roos’ Head Coach Nicholas Gay recently clinched his 100th win with the team during its 3-1 victory over Granbury last week.
It is a feat Gay, who entered his position in the spring of 2017, conquered in roughly two-and-a-half years with the team (winning 41 matches in 2017 and 2018 each).
For his part, Gay said he was not focused on the milestone heading into this season or the Granbury match, while stressing that his players are the ones deserving of the credit, saying it has been their efforts on the court which have resulted in the accolade.
“I was super surprised,” Gay said.
“Some of the parents may have thought about it or some of the kids, but I was in complete shock. It’s a really cool milestone to have, especially this early at a school.
“But I’m the benefactor, it’s really the kids that did all the work. They gave their blood, sweat and tears and all their time to get those wins. It’s a really cool accomplishment, but I downplay it because it’s all my kids who ended up getting those wins.”
Gay’s success has not been surprising to Weatherford’s players, considering one commonality throughout the Lady Roos’ roster is a deep sense of dedication to their coach, senior defensive specialist Hartlie Kennedy said.
“Coach Gay definitely motivates us, and even though he is tough on us, he still encourages us and pushes us to the best of our ability,” Kennedy said.
“Off the court, you can really connect with him. He’s fun to be around, you get to know him, he gets to know you. I think he’s a great coach all-around.”
Outside hitter and fellow senior Tatum Wright echoed her teammate’s comments, while adding that Gay’s investment in his players’ lives has served as its own source of motivation for the Lady Roos.
“I think Coach Gay is tough on us, but it’s because he knows our potential and how we can play,” Wright said.
“He’s really good at motivating us when there’s a big game. Off the court, he can connect with the players really well, which I think helps us be successful on the court because we all respect him.
“I think he’s really done a lot for our program the last couple years.”
Similar opinions are shared by Weatherford’s younger varsity players, including sophomore defensive specialist Keegan O’Connor and junior outside hitter Lynsey Lee.
“Coach Gay’s a strong leader and always wants what’s best for us,” Lee said.
“He cares about our schooling and our personal lives. I was excited for him to get his 100th win.”
“He’s a very intense leader and very competitive,” O’Connor said.
At the same time, Gay stressed that his focus is not on personal accolades but rather building up Weatherford volleyball’s standing around the state.
“From a district perspective, my goal is to be in the top half of district, which means we are making playoffs every year,” Gay said.
“And then on a state level, when people talk about Weatherford volleyball, I want them to know it’s a disciplined, well-coached team whose kids play hard and are always gonna be competitive on the court no matter what the score or situation says.”
Nearly three years in, Gay’s Lady Roos have displayed plenty of that.