Volleyball practice in Magdalena is in full swing as new head coach Micheon Shellhorn prepares the Steers for what she hopes will be a long state tournament run.
Shellhorn came to Magdalena in January from Reserve High School, where she spent the past six years and helped turn around the Mountaineers, who were 4-43 in district play over the previous ten years. Shellhorn doubled that 10-year win total with eight wins in her last two years at Reserve.
Shellhorn is taking over for Sara Sue Olney, who led the Steers to a pair of undefeated district seasons during her four-year run as head coach. Olney wanted to focus her attention on girls’ basketball, and according to athletic director Jory Mirabal, there’s been talk of bringing Shellhorn on board for some time.
“We are very fortunate to have her at our school. Sara Sue and I have been talking to her about this for a while,” Mirabal said. “Coach Shellhorn will be a great addition to our coaching team and school. I’m excited for the girls in the volleyball program, especially for a school like ours. Getting a coach with her experience, reputation and enthusiasm is a big blessing.”
Shellhorn is inheriting a team laden with talent and evenly balanced by class with six seniors Aliza Apache, Gianna Apachito, Kambree Montoya, Vanessa Martinez. Hannah Guerro, Lillanna Vega.
Shellhorn is expecting a lot out of her seniors, and she’s using technology to reach out to help them reach the goals she has for them, as Montoya explains.
“Coach early this morning texted me and said to get a goal on my mind, and I thought hard about it,” Montoya said. “I came up with having a positive attitude throughout the whole practice. Even if you do something bad, pick yourself up. Also, to be encouraging for our teammates and to be coachable, which means when the coach tells us to do something, keep working at it and just get better.”
Apache has already built a bond with her coach in the classroom.
“I love her to death. I met her because she was my Ag teacher. I got to bond with her because she’s my first-hour teacher,” Apache said. “As a senior, I need to be a good example. As a leader, show the younger girls that it’s okay to make mistakes and uplift them. Because I feel a lot of the younger ones struggle when they get scared and think things like the people are going to get mad, but I feel like I need to reassure them and let them know it’s okay to make mistakes.”
With the kind of senior leadership she has in place, Shellhorn knows she can concentrate on the smaller things.
“My husband, I was just ready for a change. An opportunity came up here, and I’ve always loved Magdalena. I grew up in Datil, and Magdalena has such a sense of school pride, a championship culture, and I was ready for that positive move,” Shellhorn said.
Shellhorn will also serve as Magdalena’s federal and state programs director and handle grant funding for the school.
The Western New Mexico graduate didn’t play college volleyball, but that hasn’t stopped Shellhorn from establishing a successful program, and she plans to continue that work in Magdalena. Shellhorn’s coming on board at the start of the year has also helped her develop chemistry with her athletes.
“I got to watch and support the girls through basketball and track. I got to watch our baseball team be successful, and it’s part of that championship culture. It’s easy to find success when success is all around from everything we do,” Shellhorn said.
What’s the transition been like?
“I love the game. I love kids coming out. We’ve had 35-40 kids every day. Just sharing the love of the game, sharing the commitment, celebration and communication,” Shellhorn said. “I’m just trying to instill that in the girls on and off the court. It’s been a smooth transition. They’re eager and banging on the door even in the rain today. It’s been a really happy transition.”
Shellhorn will also have a pair of experienced assistants at her side, with Chuy Perez and Fran Ganadonegro firmly on board and coaching the younger girls.
Perez had just finished introducing a drill involving balloons tucked under the girls’ shirts. It was an odd look but designed for developing fundamentals.
“It’s all about fundamentals. They are learning how to pass—learning how to set—learning how to hit the ball and serve. That’s one drill I’ve used before, and I’m using it now so they can control their arms,” Perez said.
The Steers will host a double-elimination blind-draw bracket tournament on July 29, from 9 a.m. until completion. The tournament is open to co-ed teams, but three female players must always be on the court.
According to Shellhorn, there will be concession available all day, and there will be a silent auction with championship prizes and tournament t-shirts.
Games will be 30 minutes in length and all teams will be guaranteed two games. The deadline for entry is is July 27
For more information about the tournament call Shellhorn at 575-517-0392 or Perez at 575-242-9519.