Shelley Donnellon, a second-grade teacher at Norwood Elementary, recently finished her first year as head coach of the middle school girls volleyball team. Donnellon grew up in Norwood, is the daughter of Joyce and Todd Snyder of the prominent Snyder Ranches, and played volleyball in both middle and high school. She said she’s proud of what the young Maverick team accomplished this year.
Last year, Donnellon was assistant coach for the middle school girls. Former head coach Austin Smith had talked her into assisting for 2019-20. Donnellon said she’d have happily continued in that role a few more years, except Smith followed her daughter to Nucla High School this year and is now coaching there.
With the opening, Donnellon said she just decided to step up and coach the Mavericks, and “it turned out great.” She was assisted by Kate Andrews, a huge support.
The middle schoolers had a four-week season this year, practicing nightly for an hour after school and playing a total of eight games. They had matches against Telluride, Nucla, Ridgway and Ouray. Their final game was against Telluride on Saturday.
The team included Grace Harris, Cadence Shaw, Brenna Morlang, Kendra McCluer, Amber Bockrath, Darcy Bray, Raelyn Aldrich, Lilli Jacobs, Shay Snyder, Maria Camacho, Reese Elwood, Maggie Andrews, Brylea Butler, Josie Tedder, Jesse Bates and Holi Johnson.
Donnellon said she was blown away at the team meeting when half of the girls in attendance were taller than she was. She knew then the girls could block and spike at the net. She’s also pleased that the team had so many sixth graders who wanted to play.
The girls finished their season with a 5-3 record for the A team, and 7-1 for the B team.
“The girls did really good,” she said. “We lost to Nucla, and once to Telluride … but beat them, too.”
She said the season overall went off without a hitch during the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the players stayed healthy throughout the month of play. The only real issue was the Telluride gym being so hot, since all season play required everyone to remain masked.
At the same time, Donnellon said she was grateful for all of the middle school parents who showed their support for the girls on the court. She said families who would never wear a mask showed up at games and did so following the rules.
With pressure on teams to comply with mask laws, Donnellon said she told her girls to make sure all attendees just did what was required. She said all Norwood fans did so out of respect for the players.
In a small, rural school where finding coaches can be challenging, Donnellon said she’s happy to come back and coach next year, if the district invites her to do so. She thinks the middle school Mavericks have a lot of promise.
She hopes the new class coming into sixth grade next year will think about playing. She said Ouray didn’t have a middle school team for eight years until this year because no girls were interested in playing. She hopes that doesn’t happen in Norwood.
“We need to pump up our athletics and get some peewee sports going, or we will be in the same boat,” she said.