Oconee County High School junior Grace Wenrich ran her fastest time in mile during her conditioning test ahead of the 2020 volleyball season. She had to. A step behind her was freshman Brinley Bartlett.
Wenrich hates losing, especially to a freshman. It pushed her. She remembers a time when she was a freshman trying beat the upperclassmen.
“I always wanted to beat the upperclassmen,” Wenrich said. “That was my big thing. Now, since I’m an upperclassman, I really have to focus on making sure they don’t beat me. It’s a really good thing...It pushes all the upperclassmen.”
It’s made her stronger, much to the approval of the Lady Warriors’ new head coach Mark Oglesby. Oglesby was offered the head coaching position just as school was moved to online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Jacob Yates, who had coached the team from 2016-2019, made the move to North Carolina. Oglesby had been slated to be the Lady Warriors’ assistant coach for 2020. When the opportunity came, he accepted graciously. Oglesby had been a head volleyball coach and an assistant volleyball coach at his previous stops. He served as an assistant on the boys basketball team and tennis team last year.
It was a bit of ‘divine intervention’ that Oglesby found the teaching position at the school of last year. Oglesby was visiting his mother in Hull when he saw a teaching position opening up at OCHS last summer.
After a few trips from Texas and a successful interview, Oglesby found himself engulfed in a new school only two days before school started last year.
“It was fortuitous timing or divine intervention,” Oglesby said. “Things are just going into place.”
Oglesby missed out on the chance to coach the volleyball team last season. He itched to be back on the volleyball sidelines. He made the trip to one of the Lady Warriors’ early matches in Hartwell against Hart County High School to watch the team.
“My wife knew I was antsy,” Oglesby said with a laugh. “I’d get home tired and they would be playing somewhere in an hour and I’d say, ‘honey?’ and she’d respond, ‘go, go.’ I enjoyed talking to them and getting to know them in the classroom and watching them on the court.”
He watched and learned about the team for the rest of the season. Oglesby scouted the Lady Warriors.
His time in the stands showed potential for improvement in conditioning and passing.
Players will be subject to fitness tests as a way to help them improve in late match situations. Oglesby hopes to create an environment in which the Lady Warriors do the ordinary things outstandingly.
“The best do the ordinary better than everyone else,” Oglesby said. “We’re going to try and stress those things and get them to understand everything we do is for a reason. There’s going to be a focus.”