Volleyball practice was a half hour away at Weatherford Christian School on a recent afternoon, and several girls were helping Assistant Coach Kathy Goings set up a net in the school’s gym.
Goings might be the most overqualified assistant in Texas volleyball. She was head coach at Aledo for 21 years and won more than 600 games in a long career that included 17 district championships and three regional titles.
Goings retired in 2017 after her daughter, Maddie, began playing volleyball at Oregon State University. Oregon’s team traveled around the country to play games, and Goings enjoyed following and watching her daughter perform.
Now a senior at Oregon, Maddie plays volleyball still, but the team’s schedule was postponed until late January due to the pandemic. Goings had free time on her hands. That turned out to be the good fortune of a handful of girls playing volleyball in a small private school a few miles southwest of the town square.
Jessica Morgan, one of Goings’ former volleyball stars at Aledo, was in her second year of coaching the Lady Lions in Weatherford and wanted a guiding hand during this early stage of her career.
“I had time, so why not help somebody out?” Goings said.
Morgan played under Goings in the early 2000s. After graduating in 2004, Morgan played ball at the University of Arkansas, married, started a family and settled down for five years in South Carolina. They moved to the Weatherford area two years ago to be near relatives.
When Morgan called asking for help, Goings jumped at the chance.
“I love the game of volleyball and just decided to help Jess out,” the retired coach said. “These girls are a lot fun.”
The part-time stint is just right for her at this stage in her life, she said.
“Being here, I don’t have to teach,” she said. “At Aledo, I was girls’ coordinator. I was a coach. I was a teacher. So that took a lot of time. This is more like, I get to come here and do what I really love, and that’s coaching.”
Goings is quick to deflect credit for the team’s success this season. Morgan runs things, she said.
“It’s fun to sit back and watch Jessica do her thing as the head coach and let me just be the assistant now,” Goings said. “She is doing a great job.”
Weatherford Christian moved up in class from 1A to 2A this season, but the Lions have continued to pace their conference. The team is expected to do well in the playoffs after winning the district championship recently.
Their new head coach knows the feeling. Morgan was a star athlete at Aledo and Arkansas, Goings said.
“She was probably one of the best Division I athletes that ever came through Aledo in track and field and volleyball,” Goings said. “She is just a phenomenal athlete. You will see when she walks in. She still has the physique of an awesome athlete.”
Morgan walked into the gym a few minutes later, tall, thin, muscular and with a noticeable baby bump. She was soon moving equipment around, not slowed down at all by her pregnancy.
The head coach said she embraced the recent move up to 2A.
“Weatherford Christian School has been growing and getting lots of new kids,” she said. “The competition is much more competitive in 2A. This year was definitely more challenging.”
The team’s talent and depth were improved by the addition of several transfers this year coming from strong volleyball programs. Sophomores Ryan Lewis and Hannah Woodard came from Weatherford High. Sophomore Jenna Claire Feronti arrived from Brock. And sophomore Kelsey Beaman transferred from Springtown.
“They have been able to contribute immediately,” Morgan said. “They have helped elevate the level of play coming in with our girls. People have really had to fight for some spots. It’s been good for our team all around.”
The competition for starting roles has created camaraderie among the girls, she said.
“Everybody gets along,” she said. “This is definitely a family-type atmosphere.”
Goings has been a valuable part of the family this year, Morgan said.
“She has been able to work with me and help develop me as a coach,” Morgan said. “I’m soaking up all of her volleyball knowledge every chance I can while I’ve got her at Weatherford Christian. She has been a huge asset to us. We’ve always stayed in touch over the years and to be coaching with her now is a huge honor and privilege for me, and I don’t take a day of it for granted.”
The Lady Lions play one more non-district game on Monday before embarking on a playoff run next week. One thing is certain — they will be well coached.