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Competitive by nature; Seabourn sets tone for program

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, September 15, 2018
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Starting Fresh

STARTING FRESH – Chico volleyball coach Ciandra Seabourn was hired in May to take over the Lady Dragons’ volleyball program. The 23-year-old was an all-state libero her senior season at Springtown and played collegiately at Vernon College and Cameron University. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Ciandra Seabourn can recall the match with vivid detail.

It was her senior season at Springtown, and the Lady Porcupines entered the region quarterfinal against Abilene Wylie with a 30-3 record. The two schools were projected to meet later in the playoffs but ended up squaring off much earlier than expected.

The match lasted only three sets with Wylie knocking Springtown out the playoffs.

“It hit home,” Seabourn recalled. “We were the only ones in my high school career to make it to the regional tournament. It meant a lot for us because we wanted to go all the way. And we had the team to do it.”

Wylie went on to win the 2012 Class 3A title, beating La Grange 3-2 in the championship match.

Six years later, Seabourn still has bitter memories of the defeat that ended her high school career. But it’s nothing new for the feisty 23-year-old and her competitive nature.

“The one constant talking to her college, high school and select coaches was they had all never seen someone as competitive as her,” said Chico athletic director Clay Sanders. “They had never seen anyone who could get the most out of the talent she had. She squeezed the turnip dry, and that’s what we needed in the girl’s program.”

Seabourn earned all-state libero honors in 2012, and after graduating, played collegiately at Vernon College and Cameron University. She spent two seasons at Vernon and one at Cameron in 2015, leading the team in digs.

She transferred to Tarleton State University in 2016 and finished her bachelor’s degree. Throughout college, Sanders – also a Springtown graduate – kept up with Seabourn.

“For the last two years I kept asking when she was going to graduate,” Sanders said. “I knew she was going to be a heck of a coach. It just worked out to where we were looking for a head volleyball coach at the time.”

When Sanders was hired last March as Chico’s athletic director and head football coach, he made changes across both the boys and girls program. The Lady Dragons were soon in the market for a new head volleyball coach, and Sanders knew just who he wanted.

Except Seabourn was the one who contacted Sanders first.

Having heard about the job through other coaches, Seabourn did some research and eventually found Sanders’ phone number. She reached out asking for an interview, and not long after, was offered the job.

“When I called him, I was really just trying to get my foot in the door,” Seabourn said. “But when he offered I was like ‘Wow, I’m really going to coach at a public school.'”

Seabourn spent the last two seasons as the head coach at Weatherford Christian, a small private program. She took that job at 21.

“It was a lot of pressure,” Seabourn said. “My first year was a little rough, but my athletic director was very helpful. I learned a lot, and if you aren’t learning, you aren’t doing good.”

Before she even graduated college, Seabourn was given an even bigger opportunity to lead a 2A program with a recent track record of excellence.

Chico went 25-7 last year and reached the playoffs before falling in the first round to Collinsville. In 2016, Chico advanced to the 2A regional semifinal.

Over the past two years, the Lady Dragons are 53-15. Seabourn said she realized the magnitude of her new job rather quickly.

“It started hitting when we had volleyball camp the week before two-a-days,” Seabourn said. “I started to realize I needed to take charge of everything. After that first day, I was like ‘OK, I’ve got this.'”

Seabourn said she models her coaching style after one of her college coaches, Tatiane Booth. While playing at Vernon, Seabourn emphasized how big of an impact Booth had on her life and ultimately her career.

She said Booth had a way of motivating her players while also encouraging them – which really struck a chord with her.

“I’m here to improve our athletes not just for athletics, but for life,” Seabourn said. “All my coaches showed me they cared, and I want to be that person to my athletes now. I want to show them I care and will hold them accountable for their actions. Boothe really pushed me to be that person.”

Since taking over the program in May, Seabourn has already started seeing positive changes in her players. Among the areas she has focused on has been team bonding, communication and competitiveness.

The work has started to pay off. Chico has opened District 10-2A play 2-0 and is 12-7 overall this year. Seabourn concedes her team still has a long way to go, but is confident they can reach their goal of winning a district title and a playoff match.

They just have to stay competitive.

“Sometimes the girls will get relaxed, and you can’t do that,” Seabourn said. “There’s been some games where we come out on top but don’t finish. We’re trying to get to where we’re competitive from start to finish. It’s a work in progress, but some of the girls are starting to see it.”

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