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by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
ROLESVILLE — For most athletes, the start of a new season is an exciting time.
For those at Rolesville High School, it’s the beginning of the first fall season of sports, and expectations are to build a solid foundation with well-rounded players.
Just ask Rolesville High volleyball coach Tosha Pullen.
“I have high expectations for this season and for my players,” Pullen said. “We are going to work hard every day, and we are not going to lie down and not fight every time we step on the floor because we are going to be competitive.
“I also know that we have a lot of work ahead of us, and it is my responsibility to prepare my players, encourage them through this journey and make sure they enjoy the sport and want to keep at it,” she added.
Pullen is no stranger to the area. She played volleyball at Wake Forest-Rolesville middle and high school and graduated from Wake Forest-Rolesville High in 1983.
She received a scholarship from Pfeiffer University where she was a member of the volleyball and basketball teams.
Her coaching background includes 13 years as a varsity volleyball and basketball coach in Cabarrus and Kannapolis City Schools and most recently at Knightdale High.
Rolesville High School will open its doors to only freshmen and sophomores this year and if there are enough interested athletes, the school is planning on having varsity teams in every sport except football, which will compete at the junior varsity level only.
Pullen said she has 23 players in the volleyball program, and the school will field both a varsity and a JV squad.
“We had 25 girls show up for summer workouts,” she said. “We had over 40 students sign up to try out and I thought that was a great number for a new school.”
This is not the first time Pullen has been associated with the opening of a new school. She started the varsity volleyball and basketball programs at Jay M. Robinson High School in Concord.
“The only difference between that school and Rolesville is that we had juniors at the school too,” she said.
The challenge this season for the Rams volleyball team will be to get the freshmen and sophomores ready to compete against juniors and seniors from other varsity programs, especially those in the Greater Neuse River Conference, where the Rams will compete.
“We are going to have to work hard every match,” Pullen said.”
Pullen said there is a mixture of experienced and non-experienced players in her program.
“We have only two club players on the team,” she said. “We also have a few who played in middle school and others who played recreational volleyball.”
Some of the players on the team have never played the sport before, so they are learning plenty of fundamentals early on.
“We had summer workouts and for those that came, I can see a drastic difference in their skills since the first time I saw them play,” Pullen said.
It’s too early to tell which players will step up to be leaders but Pullen mentioned Kendal Harris, Ashley Stroot and Carson Evans.
“These ladies come to mind when I think about the leaders for the varsity program,” she said.
Every day her team is working on something to improve their game.
“Sometimes it feels like I am flooding them with information because they need to know the rules of the game and what to expect at that first game,” Pullen said.
The Ram’s team goals this season are to be competitive, build a team atmosphere “and sisterhood,” improve daily and win.
“I feel I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to work with these young ladies who are a part of our junior varsity and varsity program,” Pullen said.
“It is a pleasure to see my players work as hard as they do,” she went on to say. “I see their dedication, which causes me to work even harder for them,” she said.