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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Leavenworth native to coach Pleasant Ridge volleyball

  • Ever since she was a little girl she knew that volleyball would be a big part of her life.
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  • Ever since she was a little girl she knew that volleyball would be a big part of her life. “I could remember serving in fourth grade,” said new Pleasant Ridge High School volleyball coach Alexis Shepherd. “I mean I could serve it hard over the net in fourth grade, so that's when I kind of knew. I knew I was good, but it was all just fun to me. It wasn't something too serious, I just loved playing the sport.” Shepherd is from Leavenworth, and played volleyball all four years at Immaculata High School. After graduating in 1994, she played two years under current Kansas University volleyball coach Ray Bechard at Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kan. "Playing for Ray was really exciting,” Shepherd said. “He's very big on fundamentals.” Shepherd said her coaching style is similar to how she was coached. “I think that fundamentals are very important, and I think that's what we are going to focus on this season,” she said. Shepherd had a son after two years at Barton, then returned to school and volleyball at Kansas State after current Wildcats head volleyball coach Suzie Fritz contacted her . "She called me a year later and asked me to play at Kansas State,” Shepherd said. “I didn't think I could, but I got in good enough shape and they trained me and I ended up playing there.” Shepherd decided to take care of family after being at Kansas State for one year. “Things just didn't work out, so I just decided to take off from volleyball and focus on my son,” she said. Shepherd said she worked for a moving company before bouncing around a few coaching jobs with a local middle school, Leavenworth High School and Immaculata. “I'm kind of getting into the club stuff now, so I'm really busy,” Shepherd said. She said Wendy Sachen, wife of Immaculata athletic director Sean Sachen, recommended her to Pleasant Ridge athletic director Chris Powers after Sachen decided not to pursue the job because of her family ties to Immaculata. “I didn't want to pass an opportunity like that up,” Shepherd said. “And the staff seems very welcoming, and I'm very happy with getting that job.” The call from Powers came as a surprise to Shepherd. “I didn't really figure Pleasant Ridge would be calling me because I haven't seen them play, Imac or Pleasant Ridge, in a very long time,” Shepherd said. The first day of practice isn't until Aug. 19, but Shepherd said she has met the team. “They are very hard working girls,” she said. As for one of the main focuses this season, Shepherd said she wants to simplify the game a bit. “From what I was told from a couple of people, their rotation just wasn't strong,” she said. “There was a lot of change-ups in the rotation, and I think for a good team to gel together you are going to have to have a strong rotation. If you change it up too much, it's just going to make them more confused.” After being on the court and on the sideline as a coach, Shepherd said coaching may be more important than playing for her. “I like coaching more,” she said. “Some people will probably say, no that's not true. I love being around kids and young adults just trying to make a different in their lives.”
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