Kley returns to lead La Porte
By Jason McDaniel
Alison Kley is less than one month away from beginning her new job as the varsity volleyball coach at La Porte and she's still not sure what to expect.
As a 2001 graduate of La Porte, she's thrilled about returning to her hometown. But she also realizes that coaching at one's alma mater comes with its own set of expectations and pressures to produce.
I know a lot of people are excited to have me there, and I'm glad, but I guess I really don't know what to expect," she said. I know there will be high expectations but I'm willing to meet those expectations.
I'm just excited. I think we'll have a pretty good season. I'm going in with an open mind and then also wanting to make a lot of changes to help the program."
La Porte's program hasn't changed in years. Michelle Fonteno, who announced her retirement after last season, ran the team for 15 years and coached with the Lady Bulldogs for a total of 30 years.
It was hard for to step away but knowing a former player was inheriting the reins made it easier.
I'm very excited," Fonteno said. I feel good handing it over to her."
Kley, a middle blocker for Fonteno before playing at Southwestern, was happy to take the position, even with the added pressure. She came from Alvin, where she was the varsity coach for two years.
It was hard to leave Alvin but at the same time I knew where I was going, so it was a good opportunity for me, and then also to be able to give back to the community that I grew up in is great," Kley said.
The defensive-minded coach first met her new players in early May. She's also seen them play in a spring league at Dobie, but she doesn't know much about where her players are coming from just yet.
All she really knows is they returned to the playoffs after sitting out the year before and lost to Clear Brook in the second round.
They were relatively young," she said. They had quite a few juniors and sophomores who played, so they haven't lost very much from last year to this year, and that's a positive for me coming in, to have returners."
The top returner is 6-foot-2 middle blocker Jillian Humphrey, who already has impressed Kley with her work ethic and all-around ability. She sees Humphrey playing in the middle and some outside.
I really expect her to take on that leadership role," Kley said. If she's a leader on the court it's going to help keep them together, and then also she'll be a big part of our offense obviously. She's a good player.
She has the potential to do a lot of good things in the upcoming year."
So does Kimberlyn Patterson, who moved from libero, where she started as a freshman, to setter last season. But as with many of her players, Kley's not exactly sure where she'll put Patterson.
She could be potentially be a setter or a defensive player for us, but she'll be a key component to the team as well," Kley said.
The Lady Bulldogs will be in a new district this season, having moved out of the old District 22-5A, which included the Pasadena ISD schools, to 21-5A, with Pearland, North Shore and Channelview.
That could make it harder for them to get back into the playoffs, so Kley will begin preparing her players for the arduous task ahead Aug. 2. They have an important scrimmage lined up with Clear Brook on Aug. 6.
That will help us a lot," Kley said. It will help me see who's actually ready to play, who wants to play, according to how I want them to play."
In the meantime, all Kley can do is continue to prepare for the expectations ahead whatever they might be.
I can't wait," she said. I've been watching them throughout the summer and I'm really just anxious to get in there because they're so ready to learn and I think they're as excited about this coaching change as I am to work with them."