By Henry O’Brien ’20 Sports Editor
One aspect of life that Mercersburg Academy prides itself on is the accessibility of its faculty to its students. This includes in athletics. Since many faculty members are also athletic coaches, their presence helps student-athletes talk to their coaches not just at practice or during the games, but inside the classroom as well.
However, there is one variety team on campus that does not enjoy this advantage. The varsity volleyball team’s head coach, Tonya Angle, is not a faculty member and comes to campus just to coach volleyball.
Angle, Mercersburg volleyball coach since 2017, has been an effective leader for the Storm, building the skills of her players like senior Zoe Gooch ‘20 across the years. “She has taught me how to be a good captain and leader by being assertive and supportive at the same time,” said Gooch. “She is constantly encouraging me but makes sure to tell me how I can improve when there is something for me to work on.” Gooch continued to praise Angle’s creative ways of getting the players engaged in practice, which pushes them to work harder. “Every time I go to hit, she makes sure to tell me how I could have done it even better in a critical but encouraging way,” said Gooch.
Angle lives out near Whitetail Ski Resort, not far from campus, but still not as close as most faculty members, and has a full “real” life, with two children and multiple hobbies like kayaking, fishing, and hunting. “When I’m not at campus coaching volleyball, I am working at McConnellsburg Elementary as a computer instructor for grades 1-5 along with leading a few reading specialist groups,” said Angle. She plays sand volleyball at least once a week over the summer.
However, while Burke is not on campus as often as other Mercersburg coaches, players do not feel neglected. Senior Shirley Lee ’20 said, “Sometimes there are some miscommunications due to changes in school schedule, but other than that there are not many problems.” While the players may not have concerns, Burke sees one problem.
With the volleyball season scheduled in the fall, the remaining school year is a long offseason over which skills can rust. However, Angle is trying to change that. “I am looking into having volleyball get togethers on Sundays during the winter for prospects and our players, and this will most likely be on campus, just out of season.”
Many people at Mercersburg would see having a non-faculty coach as a disadvantage, but in this case the players don’t agree, and Coach Angle is trying to make that potential “disadvantage” into an advantage.