Howard’s work ethic, defense key as Decatur looks to make playoff push

By Reece Waddell | Published Thursday, October 26, 2017
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This time last year, Decatur High School was not even a blimp on Cidnee Howard’s radar.
After completing her sophomore season at Westlake High School, 230 miles away in Austin, Howard and her family moved to Decatur this past June. Along with her father Chuck, who is an assistant football coach at Decatur, the two began a new chapter in their lives.
Since then, Cidnee has become an integral part of the Lady Eagle’s volleyball team. In Decatur’s regular season finale against Argyle on Tuesday, Cidnee finished with a team-high 41 digs to help the Lady Eagles enter the playoffs on a high note.
She and the Lady Eagles are now preparing to open the playoffs at 7 p.m. Monday with a 4A Region II bi-district match with North Hills at Advantage Sports Complex in Carrollton.
“[Cidnee] is a really hard worker, a lead-by-example kind of kid,” said coach Clark Oberle. “She’s not afraid to hit the floor. She’s been good for us. Anytime you get a kid with that kind of attitude it’s going to help the program.”
Growing up, Cidnee was surrounded by athletics. Her father has been coaching for 30 years and her older brother, Connor, is a freshman slot receiver at UNT. Chuck said he and his wife try not to do much coaching at home, and instead focus on encouraging their children.
“[My dad] has trained me throughout my whole life,” Cidnee said. “He’s always been so supportive in every sport I’ve been in.”
The move from Austin to Decatur, according to Chuck, was so Cidnee could be in a smaller school. Decatur is a 4A school with an enrollment of just more than 1,000 students while Westlake, a 6A school, has an enrollment of roughly 2,500.
When the Howards arrived in Decatur, they got an unexpected surprise – a coach with a championship pedigree.
“His resume speaks for itself,” Chuck said. “We feel very fortunate as I’m sure everyone here in Decatur [does] to have him as the head volleyball coach.”
Oberle won the 4A state title with Argyle in 2015 and left to become the Decatur head coach and girl’s coordinator and volleyball coach in May. He had previously been at Argyle for 18 seasons, where he compiled a record of 533-239 – winning 69 percent of his games.
For Cidnee, the move to Decatur couldn’t have come at a better time.
“[Oberle] has been very influential,” Cidnee said. “He’s definitely pushed us because he’s been around talent.”
Senior captain Autumn Finney, who has been the backbone of the Lady Eagles all season, said Cidnee has been a force on Decatur’s back row. Along with her ability to dig tough balls and set up teammates with passes, Finney has been impressed with Cidnee’s selfless attitude that has resonated throughout the team.
“If I’m down and not feeling it, she really motivates me,” Finney said. “She’s so humble. She’s always working hard and congratulating everyone. When she says something she really means it.”
With their win Tuesday, Decatur tied Argyle for second place in District 9-4A. The schools then flipped for the second seed, and Argyle won, meaning Decatur would enter the playoffs as the third seed.
The Lady Eagles’ matchup in the bi-district round will be against the second-place team in District 10-4A, North Hills Prep. The Lady Panthers finished the regular season went 12-2 in district play.
“In the playoffs you can’t take anybody lightly,” Oberle said. “We’re going to show up ready to play.”
In the few practices they have leading up to their bi-district match, Oberle said his team wouldn’t focus on one thing in particular, but are working on their service receive and attack errors.
“Just playing to the best of our ability and playing as a team,” Cidnee said regarding what Decatur’s mindset is entering the playoffs. “I’m trying to be a leader and encourage on the court and off.”


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