By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Recently volleyball has been getting a push of populatrity in Millington.
The 2015 Millington Lady Trojans reached Sub-State in Class 2A and earned the school’s first district title and banner.
While Head Coach Jenna Harper prepares to build on that success, past Millington Lady Trojan Volleyball standouts are trying to capitalize on the sports growth in the Mid-South.
2009 Millington Central High School graduate and two-sport standout Dana Beckmann-Whidden is back in town working at her old stomping grounds. And in her spare time, she is a coach of the Memphis Metro 15s National Blacks.
Growing up Beckmann-Whidden played softball and volleyball. She signed to Lyons College to play both sports. After her freshman year, Beckmann was fully invested into volleyball.
“I’m passionate about it,” she said. “I played softball for years upon years. I just wasn’t as motivated in it. I still love the sport. But the drive and the passion wasn’t there anymore.”
Lyons Head Volleyball Coach Ray Green flipped the switch in Beckmann.
“I love him because I learned so much from him,” she recalled. “He’s tough. Some girls and athletes would say he’s kind of mean. But I grew with a drill segrent. So having a coach who severally pushed me is what I enjoyed the most. I’m very competitive.”
Now Beckmann shares her competitive side with younger players in the area. During last summer Beckmann even worked with the Lady Trojans.
“I’m excited Millington has a good program finally,” she said. “Coach is legit. Seeing the girls finally accomplish something, I was like, ‘Yes! Finally.’ Even though it was six years down the road, it was a long time coming.”
Beckmann said former Millington Volleyball standouts like Courtney Jordan, Lauren Trouy and Liz Woodard are all proud of the 2015 team’s accomplishments.
Now Beckmann is doing her part to build awareness to young players in the area to join Memphis Metro to improve their skills.
Memphis Metro president Jitka Okolicany started her organization years ago sending several players to the next level.
Beckmann is continuing that trend since she began working with the Delta 13s. Now she is the leader of the regional base 15s Blacks. They play teams from Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and sometimes Louisiana.
“I like seeing improvement and seeing the girls building,” Beckmann said. “I like being a part of the production part of volleyball. Teaching form, instructing on what they can do better.
Once you’re on the Elite Team, the girls should know all those things already. I enjoy teaching.”
Beckmann’s teaching has her team winning titles like the Gold Medal at the Blues City Classic in Memphis back on Feb. 27-28.
Beckmann, 25, is still developing her coaching style combining some Coach Green, some Coach Jitka and her own personallity. She likes to focus on strength training and conditioning.
“Endurance is what wins the games,” she said. “You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t have the endurance you can’t outlast your competition.”
Still working on her Master’s degree in Sports Pyschology, Beckmann said she also understands the mind of an athlete is another key to winning.
But first a coach needs players and Beckmann is hoping recent success in Millington Volleyball will inspire more girls to pick up the game.
“I want to see Millington grow, especially athletes,” she said. “Being the Class of ‘09, you don’t hear about too many athletes coming out of Millington. You hear more about them coming out of the private schools.
“There’s great potential of atletes coming out of the smaller towns,” Beckmann concluded. “I don’t think they erallyknow their options. They’re still stuck in that narrow mind frame. I think if others see other athlete’s success from the same town, that might be a push for them to go out and boarden their horizons.”