Sports

Return of a Ranger

"The volleyball players are bigger at the college level. So it makes sense to Tobie Moore that the doors will be bigger, too.Moore, a veteran youth coach around the county and a former Olympic College player, takes over as head coach of the program, replacing two-year veteran Kathleen Bond, who relocated to Oregon. She does so with big plans - and not just for the college program itself.We need to hear a lot more about volleyball in this county, says Moore, a multisport star at South Kitsap High School prior to her OC playing career in 1982-84. The sport needs a lot more exposure.Not that the OC program couldn't use a facelift. The Lady Rangers missed out on the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) championship tournament last year, maintaining a status quo that stretches years back into the past.But Moore says she has a higher mission, in addition to making the OC volleyball program into a winner. She'll use the position to spread the volleyball gospel around the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas, where the sport has had about the same growth rate as the giant panda population.With the schedule here, I'll be able to be a presence at the high school games, and with the clubs, says Moore, who lives in Gig Harbor. That's the part of this job that excites me the most, and it's one of the things that hasn't happened with this position before.Moore knows that the biggest problem volleyball has faced west of the Puget Sound has been lack of participation. It shows every fall, when local prep teams stumble in postseason tournaments and the Lady Rangers fail to advance to the NWAACC finals. The more opportunities for youngsters to play, the more quality players will grow up in the area, and the more success local teams will have.Kids need to start playing the game earlier, she says. They need better coaching, starting at the junior high level and continuing up through high school. And they need to know that the opportunities are there to play for club programs.Moore is well versed on those junior high and club programs. She'll leave the head volleyball coach's position at Kingston Junior High School to take the OC job, and she's a veteran of several seasons coaching the under-16 team for the Kitsap Juniors - the only significant non-school youth volleyball presence in West Sound.Right now, there are more avenues open (for competition) with the club scene, she says. The problem is, not enough kids around here know about the clubs, and the ones who do might not be able to afford it.For her first season, though, Moore jumps into the NWAACC fray with a team she admits was recruited mostly by Bond - whose 1999 squad was gutted by graduation. The center of attention on that team, Bremerton's Charyl Norwood, moved on to play at Lamar University in Texas. Another of its stars, Rashiya Washington, reportedly was set to walk on at Southern Illinois University.If you can make a peace sign, you can count the Ranger returners - North Kitsap's Megan Lynn and Central Kitsap's Lane Hengtgen. A number of prominent roles will have to be filled by freshmen, including the CK tandem of Lindsey Whyte and Heather Wallentine and Olympic's Shar Agee.We've got some good players, says Moore, who is familiar with setter Wallentine, outside hitter Agee and North Kitsap blocker Bina Hall through Kitsap Juniors. I think we can be competitive.In other words, get through a few more doors."

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