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Sports Week of July 18, 2016

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Lady Jacket seniors prepare for 2016 volleyball season

By Dr. Jim Beers

With the 2016 Chester High School Lady Jacket Volleyball season rapidly approaching, four CHS seniors have been hard at work this summer preparing to lead the Lady Jackets into battle this fall.

This is a two-part article highlighting Hannah Schweizer, Alexis McMath, Alyssa Keith and Haley Middendorf. These four Lady Jacket seniors have been hard at work throughout the summer of 2016 improving their skills and getting/staying in shape so they can set the tempo in what could be another record-setting year for CHS Volleyball.

This week’s feature will be on Schweizer and McMath, followed later in the summer by another feature highlighting Keith and Middendorf.

CHS Head Coach, Coach Chad Koenegstein, and these two young ladies recently met with Contributing Writer, Jim Beers, to summarize the first- half summer activities and accomplishments of these two determined athletes as they do what it takes to ensure a successful 2016 season.

Koenegstein said, "We are coming off a great 2015 season when we achieved the most wins (17) for a Yellow Jacket Volleyball Team in history. Most of that entire team plans to return this fall so we have the "potential" to be good again this year. The preparation that the girls do this summer will help to determine and develop that "potential".

Hannah Schweizer and Alexis McMath have been setting a great example so far this summer in putting in the countless hours it takes to lead the Jackets to success in the 2016 season. Coach Koenegstein furnished a 2015 season statistical comparison to how these two Lady Jackets have been performing so far this summer in off-season action.

In 2015 Schweizer had 152 kills, 100 digs, 26 assists, 66 blocks and 38 aces. So far in summer play Schweizer has recorded 142 kills, 61 digs, 19 assists, 25 blocks and 27 aces. "These stats are impressive as Hannah has surpassed last year’s stats in just the first several weeks of summer action", said Koenegstein. "Hannah is doing what it takes to prepare for 2016."

Koenegstein notes that Schweizer has already attended an Elite Camp titled, USAV Gateway Elite where she performed beautifully. Schweizer also has been running a 3-mile loop here in Chester on a regular basis and she runs the Chester "steps" to condition herself for late game stamina.

Hannah also attended the recent SIU-C Volleyball Camp and she will compete in the upcoming Perryville competition. In addition, Ms. Schweizer has competed and traveled throughout the region to get as much playing experience as possible to prepare her for battle this fall.

At Chester High School Hannah maintains a very impressive 3.925 academic average. She is a member of the CHS Summit Chapter of the National Honor Society and she regularly earns "High Honors" on the CHS Honor Roll.

When she isn’t playing volleyball or studying, Schweizer is busy singing and dancing with the CHS Swing Choir or working for the CHS Relay for Life effort. Away from school Hannah enjoys her activities in the "Beauty From Ashes" organization which is a religious group.

This year Schweizer competed on the CHS Lady Jackets Track and Field Team where she earned the "Most Improved" award for her accomplishments in throwing the discus. Art and biology are two of her favorite classes and she enjoys babysitting, working at the Grand event at the World Shooting Complex. In her spare time Hannah likes riding horses.

Alexis McMath has also been impressive this summer with her outstanding work ethic. During her 2015 junior season McMath had 158 kills, 73 digs, 22 assists, 11 blocks and 23 aces. So far this summer McMath has recorded 152 kills, 66 digs, 10 assists, 19 blocks and 39 aces. Her work ethic has been impressive.

In preparation for the upcoming 2016 season Alexis has been weight-lifting, running, working out in the gym and attending every opportunity possible to play team volleyball with her teammates.

At CHS Alexis maintains a most-impressive 3.750 grade point average. She is a member of the National Honor Society and keeps very busy playing her trumpet in the Yellow Jacket Band and singing in the select CHS vocal group, the CHS "Sound Affect".

Alexis works part-time at Memorial Hospital in Chester in the Medical Records Department as a Student Worker. She also worked very hard in the 2016 CHS Relay for Life effort where she ranked in the "Top-10" in Randolph County in collections of money.

McMath’s favorite class at CHS is English and she hopes to become a lawyer upon graduation from college. Her sports expertise doesn’t end with volleyball. McMath was the Lady Jacket’s Basketball "Most Valuable Player" last year for the 2015-16 season.

McMath is a 5-8 Outside Opposite Hitter (OH/OPP) for the Lady Jackets Volleyball Team, however Coach Koenegstein notes that she can and has played every position on the team at one point or another for CHS.

Coach Chad Koenegstein said, "These two girls have worked very hard so far this summer and have every intention of helping to lead the Lady Jackets to a most-successful 2016 season."

To date this summer the Jackets have competed against some of the best competition in Southern Illinois. They recently went 8-0 at the Carbondale Tournament with wins against Murphysboro, Carbondale, Carterville, Mt. Vernon, Herrin and Cobden.

At the recent Missouri /Quad Scrimmage CHS battled against Arcadia Valley, Perryville and another Chester team comprised of Lady Jacket players. Sparta recently hosted a scrimmage where Chester fared well against Sparta, Trico, New Athens and Steeleville. Finally, at New Athens the Jackets competed well against Carbondale, Waterloo, Red Bud, O’Fallon and Sparta.

Several Lady Jacket players will travel to Colorado later this summer to work out and compete at the Colorado Springs Camp. The 2016 Southern Illinois University Summer Camp is also a destination for a group of CHS athletes.

When asked about goals for 2016 Hannah Schweizer said, "I want us to make it to the 2016 IHSA State Tournament." Schweizer also said that she hopes to continue her volleyball career at the college level.

McMath said, "I would like for us to get the most wins in the Black Diamond Conference and become the 2016 BDC champions. I also want to play college volleyball probably at the JUCO level. John A. Logan College and Parkland College have already showed interest in me, bit I will try my best to increase my value this year during our CHS season so as to become more marketable."

Coach Koenegstein said, "I hope to increase leadership on our team this year. I have asked these girls to set a positive example for the team and show the younger girls that scholarships are possible. I ask the girls to be positive with no complaining. They all have bright futures."

"Last year we had no seniors on our squad. This year we have four potentially strong senior leaders. Hard work and dedication should lead our 2016 Lady Jackets to much success and positive careers."

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

CHS Lady Jackets Summer Basketball Camp is huge success
By Dr. Jim Beers

The Chester High School Lady Jackets Basketball Team and coaching staff hosted a very successful summer camp Monday June 27 through Thursday June 30. The event was held at the Chester Grade School Gym.

The first session was held each day from 9:00 a.m. till 11:00 a.m. and was for girls in 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. The second daily session started at 11:30 a.m. and ran until 1:30 p.m. This session was designed for girls who will be going into 7th and 8th grades and all high school girls.

Head Coach for the camp was Pat Knowles, CHS Girl’s Head Coach. He was assisted for the camp by high school assistant coach, Luke Lochhead, as well as Jennifer Colvis, St. John Girl’s Coach, Rick Powley, former CHS Head Coach for Girls Basketball, and Shawn Seymour, prospective CGS Girls coach.

This team of adult coaches was assisted by the current and incoming CHS Lady Jacket players. Each day the rotation of high school girls’ coaches varied depending upon jobs, other sports commitments and such things as vacations.

When asked why the camp was held at the Chester Grade School Gym, Coach Knowles said, "This is a great facility. It is air-conditioned, it is bright and uplifting and the baskets can be electrically lowered to accommodate the younger girls. You really can’t beat this place."

Coach Jennifer Colvis (left) and Rick Powley (right) work with members of the afternoon 7th and 8th Grade session on drills at the recent 2016 Chester High School Lady Jacket Basketball Camp. Jim Beers Photo

Knowles noted that in years past the event was held at the CHS Gym which is not air-conditioned. That fact alone hindered progress with the girls. "When it is so hot and humid, the girls often spend a big portion of the daily camp complaining and taking drink breaks. Out here, they have been focused, continually busy and eager to stay on task working on learning new skill sets", said Knowles.

Knowles said that the goal of the camp was to teach the girls dribbling, shooting, passing, defensive drills, and team concepts. "Some of these girls have never even played basketball", said Knowles. "We have them constantly moving and active. They are involved both mentally and physically all day and everyone seems to be learning and improving daily", said Knowles.

Camp Head Coach, Pat Knowles (right), works with the morning session of 3rd through 6th Graders at the 2016 CHS Lady Jacket Summer Basketball Camp. Coach Jennifer Colvis (left) watches closely to make sure the campers are executing properly. Jim Beers Photo

The morning group of 3rd through 6th graders included about 20 girls including Rylie McDonough, Aubrie Medford, Emma Eggemeyer, Sydney Collins, Maleia Absher, Hanna Colvis, Camryn Howie, Kaylie Springston, Nevaen Asbury, Lexie Mott, Hayden Cartwright, Lola Thomas, Aubrey Coleman, Jessica Stumpe, Riley Lochhead, Camryn Wolff, Mirra Krieg, Brianna Brake and Riley Miles. Others signed up for the camp but had not attended at the time of this interview and visit.

The afternoon session of 7th and 8th graders along with Chester High School players included Peyton Clendenin, Josie Kattenbraker, Mariah Dunn, Katie Shinabargar, Ally Rowold, Audrey Hopper, Kailyn Absher, Alysa Seymour, Kaitlyn Dillow, Destiny Williams, Abby Myers, Madison Dillman, Hanna Colvis, Camille Schroeder, Ava Lochhead, Reese Chandler, Juliette Abernathy and Kendall William. Several other high school players alternated in-and-out throughout the week depending upon work schedules and other activities.

Kaitlyn Dillow, a CHS senior, assisted with camp instruction. Dillow said, "It has been really fun to help out with this camp. The younger girls see us high school players and their eyes open really big. They are motivated by us and they talk about continuing basketball throughout junior high and high school."

"Our high school players get to teach the younger girls how we do things at CHS and they see the speed at which we do things at the high school level. It has been a really positive experience for both us and the young campers", said Dillow.

Abby Myers, a CHS junior point guard said, "It has been a bit different serving as a coach/teacher this week. The kids look up to us and it is cool being a positive role model for the campers. Actually it is sometimes hard living up to their expectations."

"We were all at their stage once and it was hard learning everything that there was to learn. It was good having positive role models to look up to at that period of our lives. Now it is a good feeling getting to be that role model for our campers", said Myers.

Coach Knowles said, "This has been a great experience this week. People are working hard and the campers are learning our defense, offense and how we do things at the high school level. I am going to try to get all of the junior high coaches to implement our system or parts of it, so that the girls will be ready to go when they reach CHS."

Each camper received a reversible jersey and four days of good instruction from the coaches and camp volunteers. Refreshments were also provided along with great opportunities for team-building and morale-building with our CHS players.

"We have already begun kicking around ideas for next year’s camp. Everyone is excited and we are very pleased with the way the girls are working this year. They are definitely learning and improving as each day goes by. I’d have to say that the 2016 Lady Jacket Summer Camp has been a success", said Knowles.