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STEM — Angela Breaker has been tapped to take over the Granville Central volleyball program for the 2019 season.
Breaker, a counselor at Granville Central, has been patiently waiting in the wings to lead the Lady Panthers.
“I came to Granville Central in 2013 and the first thing I asked was did they have a volleyball program,” Breaker said. “They did and they already had a coach. So I have just waited for the right time and when the coaching position became available, I jumped at the opportunity.”
Breaker left Granville Central briefly at the beginning of the year for a position in Wake County, but returned “home” to Granville Central as soon as a counselor job opened up.
Breaker is a Washington, D.C. native who started playing volleyball in middle school and high school. The love of the game carried over to college at South Carolina State University, where she walked on to the volleyball team.
Breaker said it was a great experience and she learned a lot about the game. She admits she was a little intimidated by the level of play because the majority of the team was on scholarship or recruited in some way. She said she learned quickly that volleyball is a mental game and she had to learn how she could best fit in to their style of play.
“Volleyball in the south is a bit more focused and strategic, where in other areas it is less structured, it was a matter of finding my position with the team,” Breaker said. “The support system there was great. Teammates were always so encouraging and supportive.”
Breaker said she plans on leading by example during her time at Granville Central and helping players find their true worth and greatest strengths. She said will draw on her own experiences as a student-athlete and share her story about how injuries changed her ability to play volleyball.
After an injury prevented her from continuing to play the sport she loved, Breaker said looked for an alternative sport and eventually joined the South Carolina State bowling program.
“I had been bowling since I was 11, so I thought I knew everything about bowling,” Breaker said. “I was sure I knew more than the coaches. We had an assistant coach that made me change the way I bowled. It was uncomfortable at first, but it made a world of difference in the end.”
Breaker knows there will be a learning curve for her and the team she now leads.
“I will probably push my players the same way as my bowling coach did. It may be uncomfortable at first, but the end result will be positive.”
Breaker discussed some of her blueprints for the squad, which includes continuing the strength and conditioning programs, more of an emphasis on breaking the game down so she will be able to help the players identify errors and have a plan to fix the mistakes. She said she will utilize video to be able to show the team how they are playing.
Breaker plans on having a practice that will be mainly about reviewing the game and making corrections. She added she will incorporate drills that will help them learn to finish the game. The players will have scenarios and have to finish it out or start all over.
“Volleyball is so much of a mind game,” Breaker said. “If you give up on yourself then you throw the whole game away, even if it looks bleak. I can tell them about it because I have done it. I want them to understand and be able to get over that hump.”
Breaker mentioned how many of the returning players have already reached out to her and they have talked.
“It was funny, because many of them didn’t know I played volleyball. They asked if I was really going to be the coach and they were surprised,” she said.
Breaker said she has discussed her expectations of her players. She said she told the team that it will be a transition for everyone and it will be an adjustment, but she asked the players for their trust.
“I want them to put team before ‘I’, that will be our concept,” she said. “If it doesn’t benefit the team then it is not welcome. I expect them to be a great representation of their parents, the school and myself. I expect them to put their best selves forward at all times, whether it is on the court or off the court, their dress, their attitudes and their behavior. I expect them to be excellent in all that they do and put forth their best effort.”
Breaker has already begun open gym for volleyball with tryouts scheduled for Aug. 1. The first game is scheduled for Aug. 20.
“I am excited and nervous, I have so many emotions about it because this is truly one of the things I have always wanted to do,” Breaker said. “I love volleyball.”
Breaker knows they have a tough schedule ahead. Granville Central opens the season Aug. 20 against Durham Riverside.
“We are going to have to learn how to mesh together, but no one should count us out,” she said.