Live Oak Fall Sports Enjoy Seasons Full of Success

Robbie Smiley, Director of Athletics
Live Oak's volleyball and cross country teams came together this fall to produce impressive results and show great teamwork along the way. Read a recap of their seasons and what stood out to the coaching staffs.
Live Oak’s student-athletes hit the trails and the court back in August, making preparations and setting the tone for their respective excellent seasons. Now as the fall sports season has concluded, both teams have a lot to be proud of.  
Bolstered by a program-record 70 runners, the cross country team achieved another program first by winning three of the four possible team titles at the finals. The Green Devils took home the top spot in the 5th/6th girls, 5th/6th boys and 7th/8th boys divisions in that race. Altogether, Live Oak won a total of 10 team events over its five meets on the year. 
While acknowledging the impressive results and top finishes, Coaches Carlos, Wil, and Neil framed the real successes of the year as the teamwork and collaboration that the team displayed, especially in a sport like cross country where small bits of training support or motivation go a long way in tapping into your teammates’ full athletic potential. 
“What is even more special than the finals results and makes us more proud is what a special group this was and how much they not only pushed themselves to get better each practice and meet, but how well they also supported and learned from one another,” said Coach Carlos. “It really was a shining example of an individual sport playing as a team in getting better together and pushing one another.”
After winning three of four team events at Hellman Hollow in their most recent race leading into the finals, Live Oak had momentum in their favor to finish the year strong. That late-season success was a key driver in making their ultimate push in the finals.  
“Their teamwork was most clear in the final weeks,” added Coach Carlos. “When they knew they had a real shot to do well in finals they all practiced extra hard that Monday and ran extra hard during the finals. Many kids jumped several spots ahead of where they had run all season and the previous meet. As a coach and as a teammate, I think those things are the coolest and most rewarding.”

At the same time, Live Oak’s volleyball teams experienced success of their own. As Coach Karen pointed out, the goals for both seventh and eighth grade were pretty simple: for everyone on the team to improve individually and for the team to collectively improve its win-loss record from last year. Both of these things happened, marking a successful year by multiple measures.
One of the highlights of the year was what Coach Karen called the “total bonus” of the eighth grade team making it to the playoffs, which she acknowledged “blew me away”. That squad finished with a 4-2 overall record, the best in the program this year.  
Aside from wins and losses, one of the most telling points of success was how much the individuals came together throughout the year to play as a cohesive unit, recognizing how their collective skill sets - both physical and mental - each contributed to the whole.

“Both teams learned how much the emotional component of the player and the team impacts their skills on the court and they learned to be more positive and encouraging to themselves and others,” said Coach Karen. “They learned who likes to be cheered for loudly when they serve, and who needs silence when they serve to do their best. They learned to look to the coaches for feedback after they made mistakes so they could shake it off and get their focus back for the next play. They learned to rotate, cover short passes and deep passes, adjust when they saw if the server on the other side was serving overhand or underhand, and they learned to anticipate when the other team would tip the ball over the net versus hit it deep.” 
At the end of an exciting season, Coach Karen and Coach Marcus were most appreciative of the unrelenting commitment their players showed that carries over into upcoming sports seasons, classroom work ethic, and future professional endeavors.
“They dove for balls and hit the floor even when they forgot their kneepads,” commented Coach Karen. “They showed up to every practice, they asked for extra team meetings on morning breaks, they asked for individual meetings with me to talk about strategy, they absolutely absorbed every minute and I am super proud of them all and loved coaching them!”
With volleyball and cross country in the books, many of our Green Devil student-athletes have now started basketball with their eyes on pushing themselves physically, while deepening their skills as productive members of a team.


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