New McAlester volleyball coach 'eager' to get started

COURTESY PHOTOLaurie Smith is coming to McAlester from Levelland, Texas to be the next head volleyball coach of the Lady Buffaloes. 

Laurie Smith is going to have a busy summer.

Smith is coming to McAlester from Levelland, Texas, after being hired April 13 to be the next head volleyball coach of the Lady Buffaloes. This is her first head coaching position after getting back into the sport following a hiatus in 2018, when she just focused on teaching.

“I’m eager to get there and get to know the girls and get started,” she said.

She admitted the transition from Texas to Oklahoma would be a challenge and is hoping to come to town sometime in June and get involved in Summer Pride at McAlester.

Smith is relatively new to coaching, as the extent of her coaching experience is serving as an assistant at Levelland in 2016 and 2017. But volleyball is her passion and she is excited to get started with the Lady Buffs.

“I think one of the cool things about volleyball is it gives you a chance to shine,” Smith said. “To me, there’s just something about when you can set the ball up and put it down that’s just super exciting.”

Her playing days began when she was seventh grade, and played in high school as a defensive specialist up until graduating in 1995. She said she got into coaching because she wanted to be more involved and it was something she was hoping to do for a while.

Smith said she learned about organization at Levelland and that’s what she will bring to McAlester. She talked about then-head coach Karli Morrison being organized and the two made practice plans every day. That allowed the players to know they were coming to practice and work on a daily basis.

She will be tasked with trying to build the volleyball program at McAlester from the ground up. Smith is focused on getting visibility for the program in the younger grades.

“The more interaction they can get between the program and the current girls and then myself, the more comfortable they’ll get,” she said. “Then hopefully they will get involved and stay involved.”

Smith thinks there’s a sense of a team, a sense of family, when it comes to volleyball.

She said younger people will have more motivation to be involved if there’s a team sport with the possibility of success. Smith believes the program will be going places in the future, and she wants the younger kids to be involved in that.

She’s hoping she can see consistent progress in the program in 2-3 years.

“I think that by then we’ll have some girls in place that have been with me long enough that know the system, that are comfortable with it, that have put in the work and made the commitment,” she said.

 Contact Corey Stolzenbach at cstolzenbach@mcalesternews.com