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El Dorado’s volleyball program hasn’t enjoyed a lot of success in recent years. Every road to success must start somewhere. Brooke Bagwell, the Lady Wildcats’ new volleyball coach, hopes the journey begins this season.

Bagwell takes over a program that went 3-13 last year, including 2-11 in the 5A-South. Bagwell coached high school volleyball in Tomball, Texas for 12 years before moving to El Dorado 10 years ago. She teaches Gifted & Talented at Retta Brown Elementary.

“We are excited to have Brooke Bagwell as our new volleyball coach. We are pleased that she decided to get back into the coaching ranks,” said El Dorado athletic director Phillip Lansdell. “She brings a solid background and knowledge of the game and has a desire to get our program on a winning track.”

Bagwell, formerly a top-ranked tennis player in Texas, said she’s eager to get back on the court.

“I quit coaching when I left Tomball because I had young children. They’re not young anymore,” she said. “I decided to throw my name back in the hat if El Dorado needed somebody.

“I played tennis and I coached in Tomball for about 12 years. I actually coached tennis and volleyball but more volleyball. I coached tennis for about a year and then just coached volleyball.”

Bagwell said she has watched El Dorado’s volleyball program. Her older daughter Katy Mangrum was a senior on last year’s team. Younger daughter Rebecca Mangrum will be a freshman on this year’s squad.

The coach said the team has already started working toward the season.

“We’ve already been to a SAU Camp and we’re going to have the SAU coach come to El Dorado to help with the fundamentals. The girls are working over the summer,” said Bagwell, who will stress the fundamentals at the outset. “It doesn’t take a tremendous amount of time to develop a volleyball player if she’s an athlete. I really feel like with what we’re doing this summer, we’re going to have some workouts and open gyms and things like that, I think we can get them to a point to when school starts, we can get them into game situations.

“I have got some talent. I was very pleasantly surprised. It’s just going to take some development. Hopefully we can be competitive, but I expect at some point we’re going to reach a level where we’re winning at district competition. I just hope to be competitive this year.”

Bagwell said she hopes to build a program that has separate teams for seventh grade, eighth grade, ninth grade, JV and varsity. She was pleased with the initial interest shown.

“I was absolutely floored because 85 girls showed up to try out for seventh and eighth grade. I was really excited about that,” she said. “We had about 40 show up for JV and varsity. I want to focus on keeping the girls playing with their own ages. I want them to develop as a team.”

El Dorado’s volleyball program, which is approximately 25 years old, still has some catching up to do. The Lady Wildcats won just nine total sets last year while dropping 42. Bagwell believes there’s no reason El Dorado can’t field a competitive team.

“I feel very strongly that El Dorado is in an area where we have female athletes. We’ve got lots and lots of athletes. There’s no reason we should have any struggle with the volleyball program with the availability of athletes we have,” she said. “It takes a few people to light the fire and start developing these players at a younger age.

“I’m also thinking about starting a club team. I’m trying to find some help. I cannot coach the club team if I have more than three girls on there and I will, of course. I need coaches and players and all that kind of good stuff. We’ve got enough people involved. We can get it started.”

For the Lady Wildcats, even baby steps would be a positive sign. It will take work but Bagwell, after watching from a distance for a decade, said she’s excited to be back in the action.

“I did not realize how much I missed volleyball until my kids started playing. I really miss it. I’ve missed it a lot,” she said. “I’m super excited to be part of a team again. I’ve missed that. I’m excited to form relationships with these girls that, hopefully, will lead them to be better volleyball players.”

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