WCMessenger.com http://www.wcmessenger.com Wise County Messenger Online Edition Tue, 25 Nov 2014 19:33:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Soaring to a 2nd state title; Decatur defeats Argyle in 4A volleyball championship http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/soaring-to-a-2nd-state-title-decatur-defeats-argyle-in-4a-volleyball-championship/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/soaring-to-a-2nd-state-title-decatur-defeats-argyle-in-4a-volleyball-championship/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:46:40 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=84005 When sophomore Courtnie Roberts’ tip found an open spot on the floor, the Decatur Lady Eagles stormed the court at Curtis Culwell Center in Garland Saturday afternoon.

Piling in the center of the floor, the Lady Eagles celebrated their second consecutive state volleyball title. Decatur beat rival Argyle in four sets, 25-14, 27-29, 26-24, 25-19 at the University Interscholastic League volleyball championships.

Storming the Floor

STORMING THE FLOOR – Decatur players pile at midcourt after the last point of Saturday’s 4A Final. Decatur beat Argyle to win its second state title. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“It’s one of the sweetest feelings you could have, to finish our run as Eagles, win and get the gold medals,” said Decatur senior setter Stormi Leonard.

The victory closed out a 40-10 campaign for the Lady Eagles and sent seven seniors out as state champions – including four who were on varsity four seasons.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this team. These four led the way,” said Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay, nodding to Leonard, Makayla Mayfield, Cooper Martin and Caroline Lowery in the post-match press conference.

Emotional Win

EMOTIONAL WIN – Cooper Martin and Dylana Hutchins embrace after the Lady Eagles’ win Saturday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Mayfield earned the 4A finals MVP honor after putting down 21 kills on 52 attacks. She also made 16 digs and served a pair of aces.

“This year we really wanted it, because we knew it would be tough to do it again,” said Mayfield. “We wanted to accept that challenge to go out and win another state championship.”

Leonard and Martin joined her on the all-state team.

In front of a huge crowd split between Decatur blue and Argyle red, two of the state’s best programs met for a third straight postseason with the 4A title on the line.

Winning Embrace

WINNING EMBRACE – Decatur senior Cooper Martin hugs teammate Presley Gibson after the team receives their gold medals Saturday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Decatur took the first set by 11 points with seven kills from Mayfield.

Decatur had the chance to go up two sets, getting to set-point three times in the second game. Argyle stole the game on a Decatur error.

Argyle led most of game three and reached set-point at 24-21. Decatur then went on a 5-0 run to win the set and take a 2-1 lead.

“I don’t know,” Lowery said trying to explain the team’s rally. “We had to dig deep for that one. It was super intense.”

Riding that momentum, Decatur finished off the match in game four.

“We played good, but they played great. They played a phenomenal match, and they deserved it,” said Argyle middle blocker Katy Keenan.

Decatur was one of two repeat champions, joining Conroe The Woodlands in 6A.

“This was a bigger deal because it was our last time together,” Lowery said.

A special section chronicling the Lady Eagles’ quest for a second state title is inserted in this edition of the Messenger.

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911 text service available http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/911-text-service-available/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/911-text-service-available/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:44:55 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=84000 Thanksgiving is the time for enjoying turkey in the company of friends and family.

But it can also be a time for emergencies. Think kitchen fires, accidents on packed roads or medical issues for those who may have overindulged in the Thanksgiving meal.

TEXTING 911 – Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint customers in Wise County can now text 911 if they find themselves in a situation where they cannot safely speak to a telecommunicator. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

It’s a good time to remind Wise County residents that if they need to call for help during the Thanksgiving holiday, or any other time of the year, they don’t even have to “call” at all.

Wise County made history in February of 2013 when it became the first county to offer a 911 system capable of receiving emergency calls via text message. At the time, the option was available only to Verizon Wireless customers. But as of April 7 of this year, the service was expanded to include T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint customers.

While the service has been slow to catch on with local residents – only two emergency calls have been received by text since the system went live – Wise County Communications Manager Susan Gomez said it is still a potentially useful tool.

“We’d like to get the word out,” she said. ” … There’s definitely some times when it would be helpful. I just think a lot of people don’t know about it.”

More texts have been received by 911 operators, but it turned out the calls were for non-emergency situations. For instance, several texts have been received for animal control issues.

Text to 911 service is also available at the Decatur and Bridgeport police departments. As of October, 37 law enforcement agencies in the North Central Texas Council of Governments area offer the service.

The texting service gives deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired residents direct access to 911 services. It could also be helpful in situations where a person’s safety could be compromised by speaking out loud, such as in an active shooter, domestic violence, home invasion or abduction situations.


  • The 911 telecommunicator needs to know your exact location and the nature of your emergency.
  • Use simple language; no abbreviations or slang.
  • Do not text and drive. Pull over to a safe location and stop your car before sending a text to 911.
  • Call first if you can, as it takes longer to get all of the information when communicating through text messages.
  • At this time, you can only send a text to 911 using a Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint or AT&T phone that has an active texting plan.
  • You will receive a “bounce back” message if you are in an area where the service is not available telling you to make a voice call.

Information provided by the North Central Texas Council of Governments

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Thieves target unlocked cars http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/thieves-target-unlocked-cars/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/thieves-target-unlocked-cars/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:43:53 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83997 ’Tis the season, for car burglaries.

While the holiday shopping season is traditionally a busy time for car burglars, it seems thieves are getting an early start on their own version of Black Friday specials.

The Wise County Sheriff’s Office has seen an increase in car burglaries in recent days.

“We’ve just had a rash of them the last couple of weeks,” Wise County Sheriff David Walker said. “The majority, if not all, are vehicles that are left unlocked. It looks like what someone is doing is going around checking cars in the neighborhood.”

Any valuables left inside unlocked vehicles are the targets of the thieves.

On Nov. 17, several cars in the 400 block of Paradise Canyon Circle near Paradise were broken into. In at least one case, the homeowner reported that someone entered their garage to break into a vehicle.

Last weekend 10 vehicles were hit in the same general area south of Decatur, on County Road 3294, County Road 3170, County Road 3198 and Private Road 3143. Among the items taken in those burglaries were a gun, cash and computers. In some cases, the vehicle owners reported nothing was taken. In at least one case, someone entered the victim’s garage.

Investigators are still working on the cases and do not know at this time if the car burglaries near Paradise and Decatur are related.

In the meantime, car owners are reminded to lock their doors and remove valuable items from their vehicles.

“You ought to be able to leave your car in your driveway unlocked without worrying about someone getting in there,” Walker said.

Unfortunately, an unlocked vehicle is proving to be a deal too good to pass up for thieves.

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Sobering evening: MADD class highlights danger of drunk driving http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/sobering-evening-madd-class-highlights-danger-of-drunk-driving/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/sobering-evening-madd-class-highlights-danger-of-drunk-driving/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:43:18 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83995 The courtroom at the Wise County Jail was almost full last Wednesday. A few people sat together – two girls who looked like they were still in high school, a married couple – but most tried to get a little space around them.

They weren’t here to socialize. They were here because they had been arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).

Victims Impact Class

VICTIM’S IMPACT CLASS – Ray Carter, Meredith Overbeck and Steve Collier conduct a Victim’s Impact Class in Decatur as part of the probation process for drunk-driving offenders. The class is sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Overbeck works in the Wise County Adult Probation office while Carter and Collier are speakers. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

The two-hour Victim Impact Panel, sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), is required of first-time DWI offenders in Wise County. If they complete it within 90 days, they can avoid having their driver’s licenses suspended.

That’s a very real incentive.

In fact, the entire evening is very, very real.

The people – all ages, all walks of life – file in, fill out a form for Meredith Overbeck of the Wise County Adult Probation Office and take their seats. On the wall at the side of the room, a slide show is playing, showing people killed or injured by drunk drivers.

I was a little shocked to see an old friend’s photo flash up there.

Larry Thompson, a retired hospital administrator, died in February 2010 when an intoxicated driver hit him on Robertson Road near Eagle Mountain Lake. He was on his way home from a community theater production in Azle.

A 34-year-old Arlington man pleaded guity to intoxication manslaughter and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Wednesday night, speakers Ray Carter and Steve Collier were there to do what they could to keep the audience members from being on either side of that equation – losing a friend or loved one, or doing prison time for taking someone’s life.

It’s hard not to use the word “sobering” when describing the program, although Carter and Collier both found moments of laughter as they told their stories.


Carter started out with an introduction of MADD, and a barrage of statistics.

  • Two out of every three Americans will be impacted by a drunk-driving crash at some point in their lives.
  • 21,600 people every month are injured in alcohol-related crashes.
  • 28 people die every day in a DWI accident.
  • Drunk driving costs the U.S. $199 billion a year.
  • In Texas, more than 1,300 people die in alcohol-related crashes each year – more than three each day.
  • A drunk driver typically drives drunk 88 times before they get their first DWI ticket.

Carter first told the story of his grandson, and the DWI accident that didn’t get him involved with MADD.

A state champion high school pole vaulter as a junior, he and some friends were hit by a drunk driver a week after the regional track meet. The young man’s arm was broken in two places.

“That instant, his senior year, all the college scholarship offers – that was gone,” he said. Two other boys in the car were even more severely injured, including one a paraplegic.

“The gentleman who ruined their lives plea-bargained 38 years in the penitentiary,” he said.

Then he moved on to the reason he now speaks to 500 to 1,000 people each month, volunteering for MADD.

“I lost my best friend, my business partner, my brother in the motorcycle club – I lost my only son to a drunk driver,” he said. “My world changed. My wife says I changed, that I’ve never been like I was before.”

Carter’s son, Randy, had gone to Austin for a biker rally and was heading down MLK Boulevard with a passenger seated behind him. He stopped at a red light, then got a green protected arrow to make a left turn.

The Travis County Medical Examiner’s office said he never knew what hit him. His passenger was severely injured, but survived.

The drunk driver had a blood-alcohol content two-and-a-half times the legal limit. He also had marijuana and cocaine in his system.

The 31-year-old man was an employee of the city of Austin, married, with three kids. He lost his job and had to mow yards to try and make a living.

Carter fought to get him probation so that his wife and kids did not suffer. He even paid for his ankle monitor. But the man violated the terms of his probation and is serving eight years in prison.

Carter and his biker friends fixed up a trailer and strapped Randy’s casket to it for the procession to the cemetery.

“I took my son to his grave,” he said, his voice breaking. “I go visit that grave at least once a month. I go to Austin four or five times a year to visit where he got killed. I cry every day. I think about it all the time.”

He encouraged his listeners to think about the people in their lives who mean that much to them.

“I ask you to make good choices, to think about this,” he said. “That’s why I come here.”


The next speaker is also a motorcycle guy – a big man with no hair on his head, but a beard halfway down his chest.

Steve Collier has a twinkle in his eye and clearly enjoys a good laugh. He brings humor into his presentation as he talks about his small high school class, his family and himself.

A slide goes up of a nice-looking middle-aged couple at a banquet, formally dressed. In the next slide, they’re in full biker gear, out in a roadside park in Colorado. They looked happy in both pictures but obviously more at home on the bikes.

Collier said his mom rode with his dad for about six months before she got her own bike, a Harley Ultraglide. At 5-feet, 2-inches and 130 pounds, she maneuvered the 1,000-pound motorcycle with ease.

The first thing she bought to put on it was a “Ride to live and live to ride” air filter cover.

His delivery slows down when he talks about losing her.

“You remember where you were on 9/11, when the planes hit the buildings?” he asks. Then he describes learning of his mom’s wreck on an August Friday afternoon – when a drunk driver in Oklahoma swerved into a group of five motorcycles, eight people, killing three of them.

“You got those people in this world that you’d trade your life for?” he asked. “That you’d trade your life – no questions, take me, I’m out? I’ve got three of them. I’d give it up right this second.”

His dad, he said, would have given his life in an instant for his wife of 40 years.

Oklahoma state troopers spent 36 hours at the scene, Collier said, measuring and weighing until they could computer-animate the accident.

It occurred at 3:30 p.m. when the group of bikers spotted the car swerving. The first bike just got clipped and didn’t go down, but Collier’s mom, on the second bike, was hit by the passenger-side headlight. With both vehicles going about 70 mph, it was about a 140-mph collision.

She was completely over on the shoulder when the car hit her.

The next bike was Collier’s dad, and he laid it down, avoiding the collision but sustaining fairly serious injuries as he hit the ditch. The two people on the next bike both died, hitting the passenger side of the car full-force.

Collier talked about forgiveness, about making funeral arrangements and the procession. He described the roadside crosses, seeing the bike and salvaging that air filter cover, which his son has put in a shadow box that he takes with him when he makes presentations for MADD.

“Four people lost their lives,” he said. “The fourth person wasn’t killed, but they lost their life, too.”

The drunk driver plea-bargained for three concurrent life sentences. Under Oklahoma law, they will serve 38 years and three months before they are eligible for parole. Collier’s 19-year-old son will be 55.

He closes the presentation with a slide of his mom’s tombstone, on a hill in an Oklahoma cemetery.

“I tell you this whole story to ask you the question,” he said. “Remember that person you thought of earlier, that you’d give your life for? The kids? Your spouse? Put their name up there where my mom’s name is, on that stone.”

Then he pauses.

“Put that person’s name up there where my mom’s name is, and then put your feet up here in my boots, and think what you’d say to you.

“What would you say to you, to keep from doing the thing that got you here in the first place – driving while you’re impaired? What would keep you from taking those keys and putting them in the ignition and doing it again?”

The only sound in the room is a sniff or two, as he draws his talk to its conclusion. It’s anything but preachy.

“What would you say to you, to keep from putting that person’s name that you love the most on that stone where my mom’s name is?”

Then he sits down. The people in the chairs had a survey to take before they left. Most left quietly, although a few came up to thank Collier and Carter for sharing their stories.

MADD estimates they’ve saved more than 300,000 lives since they started their campaign against drunk driving. These programs for first-time offenders may be the most effective.

The supply, however, does not seem to be diminishing.

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Driver error causes most fatalities http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/driver-error-causes-most-fatalities/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/driver-error-causes-most-fatalities/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:42:26 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83992 If you need another reason to drive safely this holiday season, here’s some information for you.

Data recently obtained by the Messenger from the Texas Department of Transportation reveals that since 2010, more than half of the traffic fatalities in Wise County have been the result of driver errors, such as following another car too closely, ignoring traffic signs or distracted driving.

Drive Safe

DRIVE SAFE – This Google Map, created with data obtained from the Texas Department of Transportation, displays the locations of all 61 fatal traffic accidents in Wise County from 2010 until now. Those 61 wrecks killed 70 people. The different colors represent the different causes of each wreck. Red dots are alcohol/drug-related accidents. Large yellow dots are speed-related wrecks, and blue dots indicate driver fatigue. Green dots are any sort of driver error, such as a failure to yield or running a stop sign. Purple dots are any combination of the above. Small yellow dots are wrecks with any other or no cause of accident. To view an interactive version of this map, visit wcmess.com/map. Map created by Jake Harris using Google Maps and Google Fusion Tables

There have been 61 fatal accidents, killing 70 people, since 2010, and 31 of those listed driver error as the cause.

The second most-prevalent cause of death on Wise County roads was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol with 19, followed closely by speed-related accidents at 17. Driver fatigue was listed as the cause of eight fatal accidents, although there was some overlap between all the categories.

The map at right shows the locations of all the fatal accidents in the county from 2010 until now.

The different colors represent different causes of accidents. Red dots are alcohol- or drug-related accidents. Large yellow dots are speed-related wrecks.

Blue dots indicate driver fatigue, and green dots are any type of driver error, such as a failure to yield or running a stop sign.

Purple dots are any combination of the above. Small yellow dots are wrecks with any other or no cause of accident.

An interactive version of the map is online at wcmess.com/map, and it will be updated as more accidents occur.

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Annual Messiah concert set for Dec. 1 http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/annual-messiah-concert-set-for-dec-1/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/annual-messiah-concert-set-for-dec-1/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:41:33 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83989 The much anticipated Weatherford College choir concert, selections from Handel’s Messiah, is Monday, Dec. 1, at the Alkek Fine Arts Center.

“The college choir, along with talented and enthusiastic singers from the community, form the choir that will perform some of Messiah’s most notoriously challenging songs along with seasonal favorites including ‘For Unto Us a Child is Born’ and ‘Hallelujah,'” choir director Rob Laney said.

The Messiah concert at WC began as a way to bring a piece of Dallas culture and arts to Parker County, he explained.

In Dallas, the entire Messiah production is performed on baroque instruments and features the Dallas Bach Choir at the Meyerson Symphony Center. To their west, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra is scheduled to perform the classic at Bass Hall. And in Weatherford, music lovers are invited to hear selections from the arrangement performed by students and other local talent.

“As you go west, we do only the highlights of the piece with a string quartet here on campus,” Laney said. “My perspective is: We bring a little bit of Dallas to you, so you don’t have to make the drive.”

Messiah begins at 7:30 p.m. Doors open a half-hour prior to the concert, and admission is free.

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Paradise Intermediate School given $15K for playground http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/paradise-intermediate-school-given-15k-for-playground/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/paradise-intermediate-school-given-15k-for-playground/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:40:48 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83987 Dr Pepper Snapple and the non-profit KaBOOM have awarded Paradise Intermediate School a $15,000 Let’s Play Community Construction Grant.

The grant, which is part of a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple to get kids and families active, will be used to improve the school’s playground equipment.

The district has been raising money to supplement the grant and move forward with updating the school’s playground.

“We are so thankful to have this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our students and their families,” said Principal Kristin Gage. “It’s important to realize that this playground will be available for the entire Paradise community to enjoy. At this point in time there are no public playgrounds in our town. We are excited that the grant allows us to create an improved place for our students to play and also provides all the children in Paradise with a safe place to play.”

The grant money will be used to purchase equipment.

Currently, the playground has several basketball goals and a swingset. Gage said she hopes new equipment will be ordered and on the ground by February 2015.

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Granger to continue as subcommittee chair http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/granger-to-continue-as-subcommittee-chair/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/granger-to-continue-as-subcommittee-chair/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:40:15 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83985 Congresswoman Kay Granger, whose district includes the eastern half of Wise County, will remain chair of the House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee.

Granger will also remain vice chair of the Defense subcommittee. In January, when the new Congress convenes, she will become the fourth highest ranking Republican on the committee and the highest ranking Republican woman on the committee.

“I look forward to continuing the vital work of overseeing all U.S. foreign investments and working to ensure we maintain a robust national defense to meet the needs of the United States and our allies,” Granger said. “Over the last four years as the chair of the subcommittee, I am proud of our efforts to prioritize the programs that have worked efficiently, while making cuts to inefficient or redundant programs. In the process, we have made the State and Foreign Operations budget leaner, but more effective.

“The world is a very complicated place today, and the U.S. faces some of the most difficult foreign policy and national security challenges in our history,” she said. “Our investments in our defense and foreign policy must reflect the seriousness of these challenges and exhibit strong U.S. leadership aboard.

“We must continue to have aggressive oversight and constantly assess the success of our foreign assistance,” she added. “We must also continue to make smart investments and be responsible stewards of taxpayer funds.”

The State and Foreign Operations subcommittee plays a critical role in U.S. national security policy. From supporting key allies like Israel, funding embassy security, addressing the spread of Ebola and stopping the spread of global terrorism, Granger oversees many of the key programs that invest in the protection of the homeland.

The Defense subcommittee ensures the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force have the resources they need to ensure military supremacy in the world. With the Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, the development of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the building of Bell Helicopter’s V-22 Osprey, and many other important defense companies based in the 12th District and throughout North Texas, the communities Granger represents makes enormous contributions to America’s security at home and abroad.

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Tour of Homes celebrates the season http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/tour-of-homes-celebrates-the-season/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/tour-of-homes-celebrates-the-season/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:39:30 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83983 Holiday cheer kicks into high gear every year with the Decatur Woman’s Club Tour of Homes.

This year’s event is 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, and features four homes and the Decatur Chamber of Commerce.

Homes on the tour belong to Janetta Wood, 207 PR 3004; Jeff and Susan Anderson, 112 Running Bear Trail; Will and Robin Lewis, 1002 S. Hatcher St.; and Tommy and Linda Chancellor, 124 Mesquite Drive.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at Patti’s Hair Parlor or iCopy in Decatur or from any club member.

Holiday Whimsy

HOLIDAY WHIMSY – Janetta Wood sits in a cozy, upstairs office in her home on Private Road 3004. Every room is decorated in a whimsical holiday theme featuring traditional Christmas colors. Her house is one of five locations on this year’s Decatur Woman’s Club Tour of Homes. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

207 PR 3004

A myriad of Christmas characters, including snowmen and elves, will greet guests at the home of Janetta Wood.

Wood’s 2,800-square-foot house is transformed into a whimsical wonderland during the holidays. Outdoor decorations feature traditional Christmas colors reminiscent of Candy Land. There is also a Christmas village with a skating pond, which sets the mood for a traditional holiday celebration.

Wood said Pat Endres was her interior decorator.

The country-style home was built in 1989 by Jack Morris and features three bedrooms, a living room, dining room, office and dance studio.

Wood said the dance studio is the most-used room in the house.

She’s lived there since it was built, and although her children are now grown, they include Alex James, Hannah Rhine and Franklin Wood.

Rustic Retreat

RUSTIC RETREAT – The Anderson home in Indian Trails is decorated in a western motif, featuring rustic furnishings. The Christmas decorations are a combination of high-end and homemade. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty


The Anderson family has lived in their Indian Trails home for five years.

The 4,072-square-foot house features numerous one-of-a-kind western pieces and furnishings, as well as a large collection of western art.

The house was decorated by Beverly Rineyol with The Bow-Legged Cowboy.

“If you don’t like Longhorns or antlers, you might not like our house,” Susan said.

Their Christmas decor is a mix of rustic and traditional as well as high-end and homemade. Susan said there are lots of sentimental pieces among their Christmas decorations. She also showcases a 25-year collection of Li Bien ornaments.

Deer figures and pre-lit trees make up the simple outdoor decorations.

The four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath house was built in 2008 by Dan Proctor Custom Homes. The yard is beautifully landscaped and includes a 600-square-foot pergola.

Jeff and Susan share the rustic retreat with their son, Austin.

The Lewis and Chancellor homes, as well as the Chamber of Commerce, will be featured in the weekend Messenger.

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Resident plans to decorate downtown for Christmas http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/resident-plans-to-decorate-downtown-for-christmas/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news/resident-plans-to-decorate-downtown-for-christmas/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:38:24 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83979 ”I just felt like God was telling me to do something.”

That force is what’s driving Sherri Taylor to decorate the streets of downtown Boyd for Christmas this year.

Lighting Up the Town

LIGHTING UP THE TOWN – Sherri Taylor strings Christmas lights in downtown Boyd Monday. Taylor is leading an initiative to decorate the businesses in the city for Christmas and is asking for volunteers to help set up in December. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“I remember looking around and thinking, ‘Why haven’t we decorated for Christmas in this town in a while? Somebody should do something,'” she recalled. “And then I heard that little voice go off in my head, saying, ‘You know, maybe you should do something.'”

Taylor said that divine spark inspired her to create the “Christmas in Boyd” Facebook page, which she set up as a way to get Boyd businesses involved in decorating their storefronts and donating Christmas decorations. She’s also planned for one business to put on a sale for each of the 12 days leading up to Christmas, and she’s more than halfway there.

The page has 379 “likes” in less than a month, with many Boyd citizens collaborating with one another for decorations.

A tree lighting is scheduled for Dec. 13 at the Boyd Medicine Store, and Taylor is still talking to other businesses along the downtown strip on Texas 114 to see if they want to participate.

“Some stores, like Sonic and Subway, are corporate, so the people that work there are all for it, but we’re still waiting on the corporate approval [for special sales],” Taylor said. “But the mom-and-pop stores are all behind us. It’s really exiting.”

Taylor, a former special education teacher, said she always put off the decision to start Christmas in Boyd because of work. She recently retired and is taking care of her grandchildren, but she said this year was as good as any to get started.

“I just really and truly felt that this year we needed it,” she said. “I believe in Jesus Christ, and I’m not ashamed that I believe in Jesus Christ, and I just felt like we needed to do something to honor Him this year.”

Taylor is quick to point out, though, that the events are for everyone, not just Christians.

“It’s not just for people who go to church; it’s for the entire community,” she said.

Currently, The Home Pot, Rock Island Boutique, Munn’s Ace Hardware, Family Dollar, Southern Delight, Young’s Plumbing and The Movie Store have all pledged to hold special sales during the 12 days of Christmas as part of the event.

To donate Christmas decorations or help with Christmas in Boyd, call Sherri Taylor at 940-577-0600.

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Auto mechanics students learn life skills http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/education/education-headlines/auto-mechanics-students-learn-life-skills/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/education/education-headlines/auto-mechanics-students-learn-life-skills/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:37:33 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83976 At a time when the price of a college education is growing – and student loan debt is growing right along with it – more and more people are turning to trade schools as a way to learn technical skills and quickly enter the workforce.

Terry Rye’s auto mechanics class at Bridgeport High School is one way students are learning life skills that can translate into employment.

Young Mechanics

YOUNG MECHANICS- Terry Rye’s senior Auto II class works on high school faculty members’ cars every Friday. Pictured are (clockwise, from center foreground) Uriel Betancourt, Abraham Galvez, Jose Hernandez, Hunter Ramsey, Juan Rivera, Ryan Dunn, instructor Terry Rye, Keaton Vawter, John Freeman, Payton Pierce, William Brannan, Brauch Walker, Leonardo Esparza, Bronson Burks, Jacob Roper, Rolando Rivera and Benito Davila. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“Every other class is pretty much sitting around just listening to your teacher,” senior Keaton Vawter said. “This time, if we’re not out there working, we’re in here learning about parts to go out there and work … It would be awesome if I could go into this for a career.”

Vawter is one of 15 seniors in Rye’s Auto Mechanics II class, and he’s not alone in his desire to enter the mechanics field.

“I’ve probably got 30 kids who will say without a doubt, they want to go into this field,” Rye said. “And that 30 doesn’t sound like a lot, but those are all freshmen and sophomores saying that. Most of my students are going to go on to four-year schools, but I think the number of kids who want to learn technical skills is just going to grow.”

Rye pointed to the new graduation requirements outlined in House Bill 5, which require students to take at least one Career and Technical Education class, as one reason why students are becoming more interested in his class.

“It’s a learned skill they can use for life,” he said. “That’s what this class is all about – teaching them life skills.”

Rye recently took some of his students to the Lone star Classics kit car dealership in Forth Worth, where they saw first-hand what it’s like to build a kit car from scratch.

“It was pretty awesome,” Vawter recalled. “I didn’t expect to see everything they actually did – they explained every single thing they have to go through to build the car.”

Now, Rye is trying to get a Cobra kit car for his students to build.

“I’ve already talked to some people in Bridgeport, and they’d be willing to donate tires and give it a paint job and everything,” he said. “But once we have the kit for them to see how it all comes together … I’d have to turn kids away from the class.”

The kit car would have another advantage besides its instructional value – it doesn’t smell like the cars the students normally work on.

“If the kids have classes after mine, if their hands are greasy or if they’ve worked on anything mechanical, they smell, and it’s hard to go into the school. But if we could get that kit car, everything’s brand-new from the ground up,” Rye said.

He will go to the school board soon to ask for approval to purchase the car. The plan is to let the students put it together by gradation time, and help pay it off by taking it to football games next season and selling raffle tickets.

Rye’s seniors already have the opportunity to work on their own cars as classwork. Routine maintenance like oil changes, tire rotations and car washes are all fair game as long as they can be done within the class period. Some teachers allow their cars to be worked on as well.

The freedom of this type of hands-on experience isn’t lost on the students.

“It’s a great class just to have fun in,” senior Payton Pierce said. “He [Rye] isn’t going to do stuff for you, but he’ll help you and let you figure it out on your own.”

Rye said he learns just as much from his students as they do from him. He hopes they will take pride in their work, especially if they start to build their kit car.

“The kids look at this car as something they’ll have forever,” he said. “They can see the car driving down the road, and they can say, ‘I might not know how to drive it, but I know how that suspension works. I built that.'”

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Bridgeport ISD Student Spotlights for Wednesday, November 26, 2014 http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/education/education-headlines/bridgeport-isd-student-spotlights-for-wednesday-november-26-2014/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/education/education-headlines/bridgeport-isd-student-spotlights-for-wednesday-november-26-2014/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:36:42 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83973 Bridgeport Middle School


Jadon Maddux

Grade: 7th

Parents: Aimee Burtnett, John Maddux

Favorite subject: Pre-algebra

Activities: Football, basketball, baseball, track, LINC, going to TCU games, church youth group

Why this student was chosen: “Jadon is an outstanding student, an outstanding athlete and a leader in Student Council. He also serves on our Community Problem Solvers team that placed third in international competition last year. Jadon is kind, respectful, and uplifting to his teachers and classmates. He is a wonderful representative of Bridgeport Middle School.” – Principal Travis Whisenant

Bridgeport High School


Bry Warren

Grade: 12th

Parents: Jim and Candace Warren

Favorite subject: Environmental science

Activities: Football, powerlifting, hunting, fishing, completing requirements to be an Eagle Scout

Why this student was chosen: “Bry is one of the most polite and well-mannered students at BHS. He is hardworking in the classroom and on the field. He is a student of high character in all that he does. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Bry. I have no doubt that he will go on to great things after high school.” – Principal Jaime Sturdivant

Editor’s note: The elementary and intermediate schools did not submit students for this week’s Spotlight.

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Education Briefs for Wednesday, November 26, 2014 http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/education/education-headlines/education-briefs-for-wednesday-november-26-2014/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/education/education-headlines/education-briefs-for-wednesday-november-26-2014/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:35:39 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83969 BRIDGEPORT

HOLIDAY PROGRAM – The third and fourth grade Christmas programs are 8 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, at the elementary school gym. Call 940-683-5124.

BELL RINGING - The Bridgeport High School National Honor Society will be ringing bells for the Salvation army 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at Brookshire’s.

FAMILY NIGHT – Bridgeport Elementary School Family Christmas Night is 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11. Call 940-683-5124.

BAND CONCERT - The Bridgeport High School band concert is 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18, in the high school gymnasium. Call 940-683-5124.


FOOD DRIVE – Boyd ISD will host a districtwide canned food drive Dec. 8-17. All donations will be given to local food banks. Call 940-433-2327.

BAND CONCERT – The annual Christmas band concert is 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18, in the high school cafetorium. Call 940-433-2327.


BAND CONCERT – The McCarroll Middle School Christmas band concert is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, at the Multipurpose Building.


CONTRIBUTION – Paradise High School was recently named a recipient of the 2014 ConocoPhillips Lower 48 contribution program. The contribution provides resources for PHS math and science classes.

STOP BULLYING – Paradise High School is observing Unity Day Wednesday, Dec. 10. Students are encouraged to wear orange and take a stand against bullying. For information, go to wcmess.com/Unity.

FELLOWSHIP – Junior high special education teacher Dianne Meadows has been named the Paradise ISD Outstanding Educator and 2014-2015 recipient of the Jack Harvey Fellowship Award. The fellowship is sponsored by the Weatherford College Education Department and recognizes teaching excellence in each of their partner school districts.

CANNED FOOD DRIVE – Paradise Intermediate is participating in the 2nd Annual Live Thankfully canned food drive. For information about the countywide event, go to wcmess.com/fooddrive.

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News Briefs for Wednesday, November 26, 2014 http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news-briefs/news-briefs-for-wednesday-november-26-2014/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/news-briefs/news-briefs-for-wednesday-november-26-2014/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:35:06 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83967 ALVORD

HISTORIC PHOTOS – The Wise County Genealogical Society will scan historical photos 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4, at Alvord City Hall. Participants may bring up to five photos and are also allowed to bring a flash drive. You will take the photos home after they are scanned. The Society is working hard to provide important information to everyone about the history of Alvord.


FREE LUNCHES – The Bridgeport Middle School Student Council will be serving free lunches 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today through Nov. 28 at Harwood Park under the pavilion.

CHRISTMAS PARADE – Applications for the Lights on Halsell Christmas parade are available at Bridgeport City Hall or at www.cityofbridgeport.net. The parade will be 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4, on Halsell Street in downtown Bridgeport. The parade theme this year is “Frozen.” Call 940-683-3404 or visit www.cityofbridgeport.net.

CARDS IN THE PARK – Spaces are now being reserved for the 8th Annual Christmas Cards in the Park, sponsored by Bridgeport Parks and Recreation. The holiday decor program offers businesses, civic groups or individuals a chance to share their best wishes for the season with residents and visitors. There is no charge for a space. Call 940-683-3480 or visit www.cityofbridgeport.net.

CHAMBER LUNCHEON – The Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce luncheon is 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 18, at the Community Center. Lunch will be catered by Dos Chiles, and cost is $10. RSVP by noon Wednesday, Dec. 17, to donnamann@bridgeportchamber.org or 940-683-2076.

FIREFIGHTERS NEEDED – The Bridgeport Volunteer Fire Department is searching for new members. Applicants must be 18 years old or older, live in Bridgeport and have a high school diploma and a clean record. Call Bridgeport Training Captain Tanner Reeves, 940-577-0930.


SANTA COPS - The Decatur Police Department is accepting applications for the Santa Cops program now through Friday, Dec. 5. New, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at the police department through Wednesday, Dec. 17. Call Ashly DoByns, 940-393-0300.

PARADE OF LIGHTS – The 2014 Parade of Lights is Saturday, Dec. 6. Lineup begins at 5 p.m., and judging is at 5:30. The parade starts at 6:30 p.m. Entry forms may be picked up at the Decatur Chamber of Commerce, 308 W. Main St.

BEADING CLASS – The Decatur Public Library is having a holiday beading class 1 to 4 p.m. every Wednesday in November. Participants will make a holiday ornament as they learn the steps for beadweaving. The class is free, but registration is required. Call 940-393-0290, stop by the library at 1700 Farm Road 51 South, or sign up online at www.decaturpubliclibrary.com.

YEARBOOK SALE – The Decatur High School yearbook staff has extra copies of past yearbooks on sale at a discount through the month of December. The following books are available for only $10: 1994, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010. Yearbooks for 2011 and 2012 may be purchased for $25. Call 940-393-7231 or email cindy.berry@decatur.esc11.net.


BOOK CLUB – Newark Public Library is hosting a book club for adults 3:30 to 5 p.m. every Monday. November’s selection is “Gray Mountain” by John Grisham. Call 817-489-2224.

STORY TIME – Newark Public Library is hosting preschool story time for 5- and 6-year-olds noon to 12:45 p.m. every Thursday. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Call 817-489-2224.


AWARDS BANQUET – The Paradise Chamber of Commerce Annual Christmas dinner and awards banquet is 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1, at Paradise First Baptist Church. Speaker is Dr. Shirley Cothran Barret, Miss America 1975. RSVP to info@paradisetexaschamber.org.


BOOK BLOWOUT – Rhome Public Library is having a Book Blowout Sale 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday now through December. Hardback books are $1, and paperbacks are 50 cents. The library is at 265 W. BC Rhome.

CHRISTMASTIME – Christmas in Rhome is 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, at the Rhome Community Center, 261 N. School Rd. Santa will visit 7:30 to 8:30, and door prizes will be given away.


ANGEL TREE – Senior citizens wishing to receive a gift through Angel Tree should fill out a request form by Friday, Dec. 5. Forms are available at IntegraCare, 1300 Halsell St., Suite 101, in Bridgeport and Advanced Heart Care, 2401 Farm Road 51 South, Suite 200, in Decatur. Those wishing to sponsor a senior should call IntegraCare, 940-683-8171.

HELPING SOLDIERS – North Texas Stockings for Soldiers Campaign is underway with dropoff locations in Decatur at Shear Madness Salon, Wise County Messenger, DATCU and Sister’s Grooming. Small, lightweight items that will fit in a stocking are needed. For a complete list of requested items, contact Bobby Travis at 940-453-0511, Bobby.Travis60@gmail.com; or Janice Millican at 940-627-4220, rjmillican@ymail.com.

PECAN 101 WORKSHOP – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Wise County is hosting Pecan Management School Tuesday, Dec. 2, at the Women’s Building on the Wise County Fairgrounds. Cost is $15, which includes lunch. The featured speaker is Charles Rohla, Ph.D., a pecan specialist with the Noble Foundation. The topics will include pecan overview, management tips for successful pecan plantings, native pecan production, nutrition management, pest management and crop load management and alternative bearing. Two continuing education units will be offered for TDA pesticide applicators. To register, call the Extension office, 940-627-3341.

CEU PROGRAM – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Wise County is hosting a program for TDA pesticide applicator license holders on Thursday, Dec. 11, at the Decatur Civic Center. Registration is at 8 a.m., and the program is 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The topics will include fly control in cattle, fish pond management, laws and regulations, pasture weed control and tree death. Cost is $45, which includes lunch. Call the Extension office to register at 940-627-3341.

FOOD TRAINING – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Wise County is having a food safety training program 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, at the Extension office. The training includes materials and the state food manager certification examination. To register, call 940-627-3341. Space is limited.

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Volleyball: Back on Top – Lady Eagles reach goal, repeating as champs http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/sports/volleyball-back-on-top-lady-eagles-reach-goal-repeating-as-champs/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/sports/volleyball-back-on-top-lady-eagles-reach-goal-repeating-as-champs/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:34:33 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83965 Before starting the daunting task of defending a state title, Decatur senior setter Stormi Leonard pointed out her team might not be No. 1 all season with the tough road ahead.

But she also said the goal was the same as last year for her and the 11 returning players – including seven seniors.

Lifting the Trophy Again

LIFTING THE TROPHY AGAIN – The Decatur Lady Eagles celebrate second state title. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“It’s hard to believe this is our last year,” Leonard said in July during the team’s preseason camp. “Our goal is to win state and take it all in.”

On the state’s largest stage at the University Interscholastic League volleyball championships at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, the Lady Eagles were once again back on top. Decatur closed out a second straight 40-win season with a 4A crown by defeating longtime rival Argyle.

“This year we really wanted it because we knew it would be tough to do it again,” said Makayla Mayfield, who earned the MVP honor in the state final. “We wanted to accept that challenge and go out and win another state championship.”

At times, the Lady Eagles made it look easy but there was adversity. Playing in 6A showcase tournaments such as the Adidas Texas Volleyball Invitational, the Northwest ISD Volleyball Classic and PSA Lone Star Circle of Champions, the Lady Eagles managed to win two-thirds of their 30 matches against larger schools before entering district.

They also had to restructure their lineup after the loss of returning middle blocker Dylana Hutchins, who suffered a season-ending back injury.

A sweep at the hands of Coppell Sept. 16 was the final loss for the Lady Eagles. They won their next 20 matches – all but three in three games. Decatur rolled its district winning streak to 56 matches.

In the region final, after dropping the first set, the Lady Eagles rallied to win three state and eliminate last year’s 2A champions – Bushland.

Then in the state championship match against rival Argyle – a team they had faced the previous two postseasons – the Lady Eagles proved again their resolve. At set point in the pivotal third set, Decatur fought back with five straight points to take the game.

“I can’t describe what happened during that set because it was so crazy,” Leonard said. “We knew what it was like after losing that second set so close. That third set, something lit under us. We knew we had to finish it. We didn’t want to go five and weren’t going to go five.”

A set later, the task was complete. The state title trophy was back in their grasp.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this team. These four led the way,” said Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay, nodding to Leonard, Mayfield, Cooper Martin and Caroline Lowery in the post-match press conference. “They’ve been on varsity four years. They put up with me for four years, which is a feat in itself.

“I’m very hard on them. I have high expectations of them. They’ve led this team to what they wanted to end their careers at Decatur. I’m very proud of them.”

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Volleyball: Doubling up – Lady Eagles hold off Argyle to win second state title http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/sports/volleyball-doubling-up-lady-eagles-hold-off-argyle-to-win-second-state-title/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/sports/volleyball-doubling-up-lady-eagles-hold-off-argyle-to-win-second-state-title/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:28:48 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83962 Trailing Argyle 24-21, the Decatur Lady Eagles found themselves on the verge of falling down 2-1 in the 4A final Saturday.

But the defending state champions refused to let the set get away. Starting with a Cooper Martin kill, Decatur went on a 5-0 run to take the set 26-24 on a tip from Caroline Lowery.

What a Rush

WHAT A RUSH – Decatur players storm the floor and pile onto teammates after the final point of Saturday’s Class 4A title match. Decatur beat Argyle in four games to claim their second state title. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“I don’t know,” Lowery said trying to explain the team’s rally. “We had to dig deep for that one. It was super intense.”

Decatur rode the momentum from the rally to a fourth-set victory and their second straight state crown. Decatur defeated Argyle 25-14, 27-29, 26-24, 25-19 at the University Interscholastic League volleyball championships at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.

“I couldn’t be more proud of my team and these seniors,” said coach Claire Benedict-Gay.

Decatur finished the season at 40-10 and ended the year with 20 straight victories.

But the one victory that mattered to Decatur’s seven seniors was Saturday’s and capturing the state title for a second straight year.

“It’s one of the sweetest feelings you could have to finish our run as Eagles, win and get the gold medals,” said Decatur senior setter Stormi Leonard, who dished out 59 assists in her final match.

A meeting with Argyle for the third straight postseason provided the expected drama from a budding rivalry. Decatur stormed through the first set behind the hitting of Makayla Mayfield, she put down seven of her match-best 21 kills in the opening game.

Mayfield earned the 4A title match MVP, making 16 digs to go along with her kills.

“This is really awesome. I really enjoyed finishing out that way and winning state again,” Mayfield said.

Argyle fought back, taking a 23-21 lead on a Katy Keenan block in the second set. Keenan made two of her six blocks in the set. She also had a team-high 15 kills.

Decatur rallied to take a lead on a Martin kill. Decatur then three times got to set point with Argyle staving it off. Argyle evened the match on a Decatur error with a 29-27 win.

With its tough play at the net, Argyle jumped in front in the third set and took a 20-17 advantage on Alexa Bass’ ace.

Benedict-Gay then called one of her few timeouts of the season.

“I don’t call timeouts often unless I see them frazzled,” the Decatur coach explained. “A lot of times I let them get themselves out of a bind. It was definitely time to talk to them. They just needed to calm down. I needed to remind them they are in this together.

“This is a family. We win as family or lose as a family.”

Decatur couldn’t immediately get itself back in the set. Eighmy Dobbins’ kill put Argyle up 23-18. Argyle got to set point, 24-21, on Keenan’s kill.

But Decatur refused to just move ahead to the fourth set.

“As a team, we focus on the points at hand,” Leonard said. “Every point mattered because all the sets were so close. Every set we were just focused on that set. They gave us all they had.”

Decatur took the next five points starting with one of Martin’s 17 kills. Maclaine Lowery then brought Decatur within a point forcing a service-receive error with a hard serve. A pair of Argyle hitting errors put Decatur ahead for Lowery to earn the win and all the momentum.

“It was a battle. We let that third set get away,” said Argyle coach Clark Oberle. “If we could’ve gotten two more points, it may have been a different story.”

Lowery’s tip to end the third set was one of several tips for Decatur after they adjusted to Argyle’s blocking. Argyle had seven blocks but none in the final set.

“Stormi did a good job late when they started stacking on our hitters with their block of mixing the ball around and getting us shots they weren’t ready for,” Martin said.

Lowery’s tip put Decatur up 8-5 in set four. The lead grew to 15-6 on a Martin kill.

After back-to-back kills for Lowery made it 22-14, Argyle closed within four, 23-19. But Lowery ended the run with a kill. Courtnie Roberts then tipped home the match and state championship winning point.

“It’s indescribable,” Lowery said. “And to be able to do it with my best friends is amazing.”


Argyle … 14 … 29 … 24 … 19
Decatur … 25 … 27 … 26 … 25


Kills: Katy Keenan 15, Halee Van Poppel 11, Alexa Bass 7, Eighmy Dobbins 5, Allison White 5

Assists: Bass 19, Strealy Sizelove 18, Maddie DeGuire 2, Dobbins 2, Keenan 1, Emma Malone 1

Digs: Keenan 12, Van Poppel 12, Bass 11, DeGuire 11, Dobbins 7, Sizelove 6, Malone 2

Aces: DeGuire 4, Dobbins 2, Bass 1


Set … Kills … Errors … Pct.

1 … 8 … 5 … .065
2 … 12 … 5 … .159
3 … 14 … 5 … .178
4 … 9 … 3 … .250

Total … 43 … 20 … .160


Kills: Makayla Mayfield 21, Caroline Lowery 19, Cooper Martin 17, Courtnie Roberts 6, Stormi Leonard 2, Raena Slate 1, Taylor Uselton 1

Assists: Leonard 59, Martin 2, Kelsie Worley 2, Maclaine Lowery 2, Mayfield 1

Digs: Maclaine Lowery 18, Mayfield 16, Martin 15, Caroline Lowery 12, Roberts 1, Uselton 1

Aces: Mayfield 2, Caroline Lowery 2, Roberts 1, Maclaine Lowery 1


Set … Kills … Errors … Pct.

1 … 17 … 3 … .438
2 … 22 … 6 … .320
3 … 13 … 6 … .159
4 … 15 … 5 … .333
Total … 67 … 20 … .301

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Volleyball: Long road back to top http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/sports/volleyball-long-road-back-to-top/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/sports/volleyball-long-road-back-to-top/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:08:05 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83959 4A REGION I BI-DISTRICT

Starting the postseason portion of their state title defense, the Decatur Lady Eagles looked in championship form.

Behind merciless hitting, brilliant decision-making and pinpoint serving, the Lady Eagles dispatched Venus in three sets, 25-6, 25-3, 25-7, in their Class 4A Region I Bi-district match at Chisholm Trail High School.

“We wanted to come out focused, have fun and set a tone for how we’re going to play in the playoffs,” said senior hitter Makayla Mayfield, who led the team with 12 kills.

Playing the fourth-place team from District 7-4A, Decatur (34-10) never let underdog Venus (18-20) in the match. Venus scored back-to-back points only four times.

“I feel every match we’ve got to get better,” said Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay. “That’s the mentality we have to keep.”

Offensively, Decatur buried 43 kills. Setter Stormi Leonard worked the ball around with six different players registering kills. Courtnie Roberts put down 11. Caroline Lowery added eight and Cooper Martin seven.

“All of our offense got some swings,” Benedict-Gay said. “We’ve worked hard in practice moving the ball around. It’s good to see that carry over from practice.”

The Lady Eagles would have had more kills if their serving hadn’t been so sharp. Decatur finished with 12 aces. Martin led the way with four. Mayfield added three.

“Our serving was consistent,” Mayfield said. “We kept the ball in play.”

With back-to-back kills from Emily Oxford and a finisher from Martin, Decatur jumped out to a 12-2 lead in the opening set.

The Lady Eagles’ lead grew to 23-4 with a Martin block and kill. The set ended on a Venus error.

Martin’s second ace in a 10-point stretch gave Decatur a 13-1 lead to start the second game. After a pair of Venus points, Mayfield put down a kill and then went to the service line. She served out the final 11 points, ending the set with an ace.

Mayfield served the first five points in the third game with Leonard’s kill making it 5-0.

Maclaine Lowery’s two aces put Decatur up 13-6. Venus scored just one more point in the match. Roberts and Mayfield took turns burying shots in a closing 9-0 run. Leonard ended the match with a block – her fourth of the night.

Winning Feeling

WINNING FEELING -Decatur’s Stormi Leonard celebrates a point with her teammates during the Lady Eagles’ sweep of Venus. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty


The Decatur Lady Eagles continued their defense of last year’s state championship with a solid 25-5, 25-16, 25-8 win over Iowa Park in the Class 4A Region I area match at Jacksboro.

Decatur (32-9) led 15-4 in the first game before Iowa Park was able to put a kill on the floor. After a missed serve, Caroline Lowery went to the serving line for Decatur, and the Lady Eagles scored the next 10 points unanswered.

Lowery had an ace, Makayla Mayfield and Emily Oxford had kills, and Cooper Martin dinked one in – but several points also came on blocks as the Lady Hawks had no answer for Decatur’s lineup at the net.

In the second set, things got a little more interesting as Decatur had a few lapses in communication that allowed balls to fall in.

Decatur jumped up 7-1 early, but Iowa Park kept hanging around. It was 16-6 when a long pause in the action to discuss an Iowa Park substitution seemed to throw the Lady Eagles off their rhythm.

After Mayfield landed a kill, a Decatur block went out of bounds, then a serve went long. It was 22-10 when Decatur missed a dig, Iowa Park landed a dink and Decatur let an easy ball drop.

Iowa Park blocked a kill, then Decatur was called in the net on a kill and it was 22-15, with lots of excitement on the Iowa Park side.

But when Martin pounded a kill to the floor, Lowery went back to the serving line at 23-15.

After a kill by Iowa Park, Mayfield answered with a hard cross-court kill from the side to end the rally.

The third set started with a long rally that ended when Martin put down on another kill. It was 4-2 before successive kills by Courtnie Roberts, Mayfield and then Roberts again prompted an Iowa Park timeout.

The Decatur girls went on an 11-1 tear to finish off the match, led by Mayfield, Martin, Lowery and Roberts. Setter Stormi Leonard ended the contest with a patented dink shot that made it to the floor.

Leonard finished with 33 assists to go with her six digs, a kill, an ace and a block.

Mayfield had a strong match at the net with 20 kills. She also had nine digs and two blocks. Martin put down 10 kills to go with four digs, a block and an ace.

Maclaine Lowery made 20 digs as Decatur defended most of Iowa Park’s hits at the net. She also served two aces.

Caroline Lowery finished with six kills, six digs and four aces. Roberts put down five kills and had three blocks and three digs.

Oxford had two kills and a block, and Taylor Uselton had a dig.


Tested at the net by Stephenville’s hitters, the Decatur Lady Eagles simply refused to let the ball hit the floor.

The Lady Eagles made 52 digs, turning aside Stephenville shots. Decatur then finished points with near-pinpoint accuracy from multiple hitters to sweep the Class 4A Region I quarterfinal, 25-17, 25-12, 25-14, at Weatherford High School.

“We knew we’d have to play our ‘A’ game, and we tried to be as scrappy as we could,” said Decatur senior Cooper Martin, who put down 14 kills, blocked two shots, made seven digs and served four aces.

Decatur responded to a strong Stephenville attack led by Morgan Gibson, who registered a team-high 10 kills, with solid blocking at the net and determination to keep the ball in play. Emily Oxford made five of the Lady Eagles’ eight blocks.

Makayla Mayfield led a trio of Decatur players in double figures in digs with 14. Maclaine Lowery had 11 and Caroline Lowery 10.

“They were very aggressive and had some good hitters who were putting the ball in some spots we weren’t used to playing,” said Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay. “We adjusted to their hitters and played good defense.”

The Stephenville defense had few answers for the Decatur offense that put down 48 kills and hit .433 for the match. Six different Lady Eagles registered kills, with Mayfield and Martin finishing with 14 apiece. Caroline Lowery added nine and Courtnie Roberts five.

“Everyone across the net stepped up,” Benedict-Gay said. “That’s our strength – having several people who can put the ball down. Stormi [Leonard] did a great job spreading the ball around.”

Leonard handed out 38 assists and called her own number three times.

In the first set after Stephenville had rallied to cut Decatur’s six-point advantage to two at 15-13, Leonard called Caroline Lowery’s number to put the end to the run. Martin then put down four of her six kills in the set to put the Lady Eagles up 21-16. Martin wore Stephenville’s defense out, hitting down the line.

“That’s my favorite shot,” Martin said.

Mayfield and Lowery tips ended the set.

Lowery landed back-to-back aces to get Decatur out to a 7-3 lead in the second set. Decatur finished with nine aces on the night and served at a 90.3 clip.

Three kills from Martin in four points put the Lady Eagles up 19-10. Mayfield then finished off the set with a kill.

Decatur fell behind in the third set 6-4 on a Codi Beyer ace. Mayfield landed back-to-back kills to even the game and send Decatur on a 13-2 run to build a 17-8 advantage.

After Roberts’ kill put the Lady Eagles at match point, Mayfield finished it off.


The Decatur Lady Eagles struggled to break out of an early slumber against Big Spring until Caroline Lowery delivered a wake-up call late in the first set.

Lowery punished back-to-back kills to put Decatur (37-10) in front 18-17. The Lady Eagles never trailed again on the way to a sweep of Big Spring in the 4A Region I semifinal at The Coliseum in Snyder.

“We weren’t expecting them to come out with as much fire. We knew they wanted to beat us after last year,” said Lowery, who finished with 12 kills, two aces and 1.5 blocks. “Once we got calm, everything came together.”

Decatur won 25-19, 25-13, 25-14, making a region final for a third straight year.

Decatur defeated Big Spring last year in the 3A semifinal in three sets. Big Spring looked determined early for a different outcome behind the hitting of junior middle blocker Erin Pollard, who put down three early kills. She finished with eight.

Decatur also helped Big Spring early with three service errors and four hitting errors.

With her team down 14-12, Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay called a timeout.

“This team feels pressure, like they have a statement to make,” said Benedict-Gay. “It took them a second to calm down and realize that they can control their side of the net.”

Even after the timeout, Decatur trailed until Lowery buried a kill with a big swing. Decatur setter Stormi Leonard immediately went back to Lowery for another kill to put the Lady Eagles in front.

“She definitely stepped up and made some great shots,” Benedict-Gay said. “She’s just a fighter. It’s been a few matches since I’ve seen that level from her. It’s good to see.”

Decatur ran off nine of the final 11 points in the set. Makayla Mayfield’s kill put the Lady Eagles at game point. Lowery’s ace finished off the set.

Lowery started the second set with a kill and then extended the Lady Eagles’ lead to 4-1 with a blast to the center of the floor.

“Our mentality was to crush them,” Lowery said. “We wanted to keep pushing them down and didn’t want them to come back.”

Two Courtnie Roberts blocks and one from Lowery stretched Decatur’s advantage to 15-8.

A Leonard ace made it game point. Mayfield then finished off the set with one of her nine kills.

Sensing a chance for the sweep, Decatur jumped to a 10-3 lead in the third set on a Roberts ace.

Decatur finished with eight aces and served at 87.8 percent.

The Decatur advantage grew to 10, 24-14, on a Cooper Martin kill. Martin put down 12 of the Lady Eagles’ 39 kills. Decatur hit .330 for the match.

Stormi Leonard dished out 31 assists.

Her final assist on the left side allowed Lowery to appropriately end the match with a kill off the Big Spring block.


VICTORY – Cooper Martin pumps her fist as her teammates cheer in the background. Martin downed a dozen of the Lady Eagles’ 39 kills against Big Spring. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty


In the clash of defending state champions, the Decatur Lady Eagles absorbed the first body blows from Bushland and middle blocker Anna Graham.

But the Lady Eagles (39-10) quickly got off the canvas after dropping the first set, making adjustments and beginning to land their own punches. Behind the clutch hitting of Caroline Lowery and Makayla Mayfield, they took the final three sets and the Class 4A Region I Final at Western Texas College’s The Coliseum in Snyder.

Decatur won 19-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-17.

“They came out with fire, and we were a little nervous because we knew it was only one game to state,” said Lowery, who was named the 4A Region I tournament MVP after putting down 16 kills in the final. “We worried too much about what they were doing [in the first set] instead of what we needed to do. After that, we started to play our game.”

Bushland (37-5), last year’s 2A champions, had the Lady Eagles on the ropes early behind Graham, who buried 17 kills from the middle of the floor.

“Their middle blocker was phenomenal. That’s something we’ve not seen,” Leonard said. “That’s not the game we play, and it’s something we’re not used to.”

Decatur also struggled to handle Bushland’s serving and to get a good pass to get into its offense.

Bushland took the lead 13-12 on the first of two Decatur service errors in the opening set. That started a 6-0 run for the Lady Falcons.

Bushland captured the set on another Decatur service error.

After dropping their first set in a while, Decatur rebounded quickly.

“From our tough preseason, we played some really tough teams that pushed us, and we knew what it was like to be in the situation – to be down and have to come back,” Lowery said.

Mayfield put Decatur up 6-3 with a big swing in the second set. The Lady Eagles then got their two middles, Courtnie Roberts and Emily Oxford, involved in the offense, putting down kills around another from Mayfield to put Decatur up 10-4.

Mayfield finished the second set with a kill.

Decatur jumped out to a 5-0 lead in set three and took a 16-7 advantage on a Mayfield kill that bounced off a Bushland defender and nearly made it into the stands.

Mayfield finished the set with one of her 18 kills.

With a state berth in sight, Decatur took a 12-6 lead in set four on a Roberts block. A Roberts kill made it 19-10.

Lowery increased the lead to 23-16. Two Bushland hitting errors closed the match – and sent the Lady Eagles back to state.


In their return to the state stage, the Decatur Lady Eagles looked right at home Friday afternoon.

Behind pinpoint serving and a versatile attack, the Lady Eagles dispatched Robinson in the 4A semifinals of the University Interscholastic League volleyball championships at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.

Decatur won 25-18 25-19 25-7. The Lady Eagles moved to 3-0 and have won nine straight games at the state tournament in the past two years.

The bright state lights had little effect on the Lady Eagles.

In the third set, the Lady Eagles put Robinson away with five of their nine aces. Lowery and Makayla Mayfield served two each. Cooper Martin buried four kills.

“We had a game plan coming in. We wanted to make sure we attacked at the pins and wanted to keep them out of system with our serving,” said Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay.

Decatur had just one service error in the match.

Lowery and Courtnie Roberts served three aces each.

Decatur jumped out to a 15-5 lead on Stormi Leonard’s lone kill. A Lowery ace made it 20-4. After a pair of Robinson points at match point, Mayfield ended the match with her 15th kill.

Decatur put down 42 kills, hitting .323 for the match. The Lady Eagles hit .500, putting down 13 of their 24 chances in the final set.

Martin finished with 12 kills and Lowery nine. Leonard doled out 37 assists.

Defensively, the Lady Eagles made 53 digs and limited Robinson’s Bailey Meggs to seven kills on 34 attacks. Maclaine Lowery made 17 digs and Leonard 15.

Decatur used a 9-2 run early in the first set to take an 11-5 lead on a Caroline Lowery ace. The Lady Eagles maintained the edge, taking the game by seven.

The Lady Eagles again jumped out to an early advantage in the second set, 5-1, on a Mayfield ace and Robinson error. Robinson never got closer than four the rest of the game.

Down 2-0, Robinson had no answer in game three.


Season Record: 40-10
8-4A record: 8-0
Playoffs record: 7-0

Azle … 25-15, 25-19, 25-10
Joshua … 25-14, 25-12, 25-17
Round Rock McNeil … 25-20, 25-22
Houston Bellaire … 23-25, 25-18, 25-16
League City Clear Falls … 22-25, 15-25
Leander Rouse … 25-23, 25-19
Lewisville Marcus … 25-16, 25-18
Austin Westlake … 25-13, 25-23
Pearland … 19-25, 18-25
San Antonio Alamo Heights … 25-23, 19-25, 9-15
Aledo … 20-25, 25-20, 20-25, 25-18, 6-15
Hereford … 25-18, 20-25, 25-13
North Richland Hills Birdville … 25-18, 25-16
Arlington Lamar … 25-20, 25-20
Saginaw Boswell … 25-15, 25-19
Prosper … 21-25, 25-20, 23-25
Frisco Wakeland … 25-18, 25-23
Waco Midway … 23-25, 25-21, 25-17
Rockwall Heath … 19-25, 12-25
Brock … 25-15, 25-21, 25-18
Allen … 23-25, 25-23, 25-15
Prosper … 26-24, 20-25, 15-25
Garland Sachse … 25-14, 25-19
Grapevine … 25-14, 25-16
Austin Westlake … 22-25, 25-17, 25-27
Prosper … 25-20, 20-25, 13-25
Keller Fossil Ridge … 25-18, 25-22, 25-18
Fort Worth Chisholm Trail … 25-8, 25-12, 23-25, 25-8
Denton Ryan … 25-18, 25-12, 25-16
Coppell … 12-25, 21-25, 22-25
Abilene Wylie … 25-15, 25-13, 25-20
Argyle … 25-20, 21-25, 25-18, 26-24
Lake Worth … 25-6, 25-10, 25-10
Mansfield Legacy … 25-11, 25-10, 25-16
Castleberry … 25-5, 25-0, 25-4
Bridgeport … 25-5, 25-9, 25-4
Springtown … 25-9, 25-16, 25-13
Lake Worth … 25-6, 25-12, 25-5
Grapevine … 25-20, 25-11, 25-18
Castleberry … 25-6, 25-7, 25-9
Bridgeport … 25-9, 25-5, 25-4
Springtown … 25-13, 25-7, 25-11
Aledo … 25-22, 25-18, 25-15


Venus … 25-6, 25-3, 25-7
Iowa Park … 25-5, 25-16, 25-8
Stephenville … 25-17, 25-12, 25-14


Big Spring … 25-19, 25-13, 25-14
Bushland … 19-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-17


Robinson … 25-18, 25-19, 25-7
Argyle … 25-14, 27-29, 26-24, 25-19

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Volleyball: Mayfield shines in title match http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/sports/volleyball-mayfield-shines-in-title-match/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/sports/volleyball-mayfield-shines-in-title-match/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:06:27 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83955 On her way to earning Wise County Female Athlete of the Year last year, Makayla Mayfield was best characterized by coaches and teammates as unflappable.

She showed that again Saturday in the 4A state title match against Argyle.

Mayfield buried a match-best 21 kills on 52 attacks, hitting .250. She also made 16 digs on defense and served a pair of aces as Decatur captured its second straight state championship.

Mayfield earned the MVP of the finals with her performance.

Top Honor

TOP HONOR – Makayla Mayfield accepts the 4A title match MVP award. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“It was awesome,” Mayfield said. “I really enjoyed finishing that way.”

Performing on the big stage was nothing new for Mayfield, a four-year standout on the volleyball court.

As a sophomore, she helped Decatur to the region final. She earned 9-3A Defensive Player of the Year after a team-leading 349 digs and serving 60 aces. She also added 351 kills, including 17 in the region final against Argyle.

In her junior season, Mayfield recorded a team-high 508 kills and made 540 digs. She also had 79 aces and 34 blocks.

“Makayla was the rock for the team. She was always the go-to person,” said Decatur setter Stormi Leonard over the summer. “You could never tell she had the whole team, all the pressure, on her.”

After leading the Lady Eagles back against Argyle last postseason, she continued her strong play through the state title match.

She was named Class 3A volleyball Player of the Year by the Texas Sportswriters Association, 9-3A MVP and Wise County MVP in volleyball.

But those weren’t the only highlights of her junior year. Mayfield quickly joined the Lady Eagles basketball team, averaging 3.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

Just as she did in volleyball, Mayfield came up huge in big moments. In the 9-3A tiebreaker against Krum, Mayfield helped lead a second-half surge with her on-the-ball defense. Her steal and layup in the fourth quarter started a game-winning run.

In the 3A Region II area game against Princeton, Mayfield was forced to play heavy minutes due to an injury to guard Murphy Graham and foul trouble. In the closing seconds, her team was down 47-45. Backup point guard Sidney Carter fought through the press and got the ball to Mayfield on the wing.

Mayfield, who had not hit a 3-pointer all season before hitting one in the first half, drained the shot from the wing at the buzzer to give Decatur the 48-47 victory.

“I’m not the person to give it to at the end of the game,” Mayfield recalled. “It happened really fast. I just threw it up there. When it went in, I was in shock.”

Back on the volleyball court this fall, she was determined to help the Lady Eagles get back to the state tournament. She put down 496 kills, hitting .312 for the season. She also made a team-high 543 digs and served 65 aces.

Saturday, after her final performance as a Lady Eagle, she was once again a champion.

“This year we really wanted it because we knew it would be tough to do it again,” said Mayfield. “We wanted to accept that challenge and go out and win another state championship.”

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Volleyball: Leading way back to top – Leonard racks up 59 assists in finals http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/sports/volleyball-leading-way-back-to-top-leonard-racks-up-59-assists-in-finals/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/sports/volleyball-leading-way-back-to-top-leonard-racks-up-59-assists-in-finals/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:05:34 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83952 While hanging out with a pair of Decatur quarterbacks, Grayson Muehlstein and Justin Myers, Stormi Leonard got a few lessons on taking a snap and dropping back to pass.

“I’ve always wanted to play football,” Leonard said. “But I never could.”

Big Helping Hand

BIG HELPING HAND – Decatur senior setter Stormi Leonard hands out one of her 59 assists in the 4A title match win over Argyle Saturday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Though not on the gridiron, Leonard was undoubtedly the quarterback for the Decatur Lady Eagles volleyball team the past three seasons.

Leonard, a four-year varsity player, is the school record holder for assists with 3,955 over her career.

She handed out 1,356 on the way to the 3A crown in 2013. This year on the way to repeating as state champions, she doled out 1,433.

But the all-state setter meant far more to the Lady Eagles than those numbers show.

“She’s the whole package,” said Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay. “She brings a lot of life to the floor. She’s always dancing and smiling. She’s very entertaining.”

Leonard also bears the brunt of her coach’s displeasure when something goes wrong.

“She takes the most heat from me. I’m harder on her than anyone,” the coach explains.

The job description isn’t ideal: part cheerleader, quarterback, psychologist and fall-guy.

“Some days are harder than others, but I wouldn’t want another job,” Leonard said. “You have to have lots of patience and the ability to work with everyone – the different hitters and passers. You also have to deal with the coach and refs.

“If a hit isn’t right or a pass wasn’t good, it’s up to me to fix the mistake.”

Leonard started playing setter in junior high after she realized her height (5-7) would limit her as a hitter.

“I’m short,” Leonard said with a dead-pan delivery. “I used to hit, and then in seventh grade, I accepted the fact that I’m not going to be a hitter.”

She started working with former Decatur standout Fleming Smurthwaite, and by her freshman year, she was a part-time setter on the Lady Eagles’ varsity with Joey Redwine.

The job was hers full-time the past three years.

In her final match Saturday, the quarterback turned in a Super Bowl caliber performance, handing out 59 assists – 20 more than her entire freshman year.

And it was her audibles in the offense to get around a tough Argyle block that allowed Decatur to rally in the third set and win the title in the fourth.

“Stormi did a good job late, when they started stacking on our hitters with their block, of mixing the ball around and getting us shots they weren’t ready for,” said senior Cooper Martin.

But as most quarterbacks give credit to their offensive line, Leonard quickly deflected any credit to her hitters.

“The hitters did a great job of taking care of the ball and good job adjusting to the good and bad that I gave them,” Leonard said. “They were doing everything they could to keep the ball in play.”

Few quarterbacks get a chance to leave as a state champion. Leonard has now experienced that twice.

“To finish out our run as an Eagle and get a gold medal is insane,” Leonard said.

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Volleyball: Family ties help secure crown http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/sports/volleyball-family-ties-help-secure-crown/ http://www.wcmessenger.com/2014/sports/volleyball-family-ties-help-secure-crown/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:04:46 +0000 http://www.wcmessenger.com/?p=83949 Sister Act

SISTER ACT – Maclaine and Caroline Lowery celebrate after the Lady Eagles vcitory Saturday over Argyle in four sets. The Lowerys are one of several sisters in the program. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Maclaine Lowery’s light hearted nature and jokes don’t always sit well with her older sister, Caroline.

“I get annoyed with her,” the older Lowery said. “She’ll also argue with me. I’m a senior and that’s disrespectful. We definitely have our ups and downs.”

But the opportunity to share the experience on the volleyball court the past two years – including winning two state titles – makes up for any of the down times.

“I do get annoyed with her, but I’m thankful for the experience,” Caroline explains. “There’s not many sisters who can say they’ve won a state title together.”

This past year, the Lowerys were far from unique in a Decatur volleyball program that features more than a couple of family relationships – with four sets of sisters and a mother-daughter combination.

We Are Family

WE ARE FAMILY – The Decatur Lady Eagles have a mother and daughter, Brandy and Makayla Mayfield (front) and four sets of sisters – Caroline and Maclaine Lowery, Kelsie, Courtnie and Brittany Roberts, Cooper and Carson Martin, and Morgan and Haleigh Taylor – in the program this year. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“Because we have so many family bonds it makes us closer,” said senior Cooper Martin, whose freshman sister Carson joined the program this year. “We treat the others like sisters also.”

Decatur coach Claire Benedict-Gay said those family relations can keep it interesting but have also helped with the program’s winning culture.

“We’ve always stressed that we are a family and rely on each other, not only in volleyball but life,” Benedict-Gay said. “They’ve learned how to hold each other accountable and be there for each other in the tough times.”

Assistant coach Brandy Mayfield and her daughter, senior Makayla, have perhaps the most unique relationship. But early on, the two set parameters to keep volleyball from tearing them apart.

“We learned to leave it at school,” Coach Mayfield said.

But despite their best efforts, sometimes it becomes dinner conversation.

On the court, Makayla likes having her mother there to talk to.

“During a timeout, I can talk to her and she helps me to focus and do better,” she said.

Coach Mayfield enjoys the chance to help her daughter and the opportunity to share in the team’s success.

“I get to experience it on both ends as a coach and mother,” she said.

Sophomore middle blocker Courtnie Roberts has a pair of sisters in the program, her twin sister Kelsie, who plays on the junior varsity, and senior manager Brittany.

“We haven’t all three been on the same team together since we were 8 and 9,” Courtnie said. “It’s weird for all of us to be in the same program.”

Brittany took over as a manager this year to spend time with her younger sisters.

“I wanted to be with them as a senior,” she said.

Brittany and Kelsie are also stalwarts in the Decatur softball program. They are hoping to get Courtnie to join them the diamond this year.

While Courtnie and Kelsie are twins, they are quite different.

“They have very different personalities,” Brittany interjects.

On Feb. 22, 1999, Courtnie was born two minutes before Kelsie.

“I’ll forever hold that over her head,” Courtnie joked.

They were also 2 ounces and 2 inches apart.

Now, Courtnie towers over both her sisters.

“She’s forever my little big sister,” Brittany said.

Courtnie also happens to be the one the other two sisters turn to.

“We both get along with Courtnie better,” Kelsie said.

Brittany adds: “Her personality is unique.”

Brittany Roberts shares managing duties with Morgan Taylor, who is also helping freshman sister Haleigh find her way as a first-year player in the program.

“It’s been great. It’s something we can share together,” Taylor said. “Before, we were always in different places. This has helped strengthen our relationship.”

Morgan played her freshman and sophomore seasons before stepping into her support role.

“I’m in charge of everything,” she points out as she tells Brittany Roberts what to wear for a photo.

Haleigh adds: “She’s sometimes bossy, but most of the time she’s helpful.”

Another senior, Cooper Martin, has welcomed her freshman sister, Carson, who is playing on the junior varsity.

“It’s fun getting to take her to practice and having a person to talk to,” Cooper said.

Carson claims having her older sister with her helped her settle in quickly.

“On the first day, I was more comfortable with her,” Carson said. “She’s also my partner in the weight room. She’s been able to show me what to do during workouts.”

But as the younger sister of a four-year varsity standout, Carson said there are high expectations.

“I wanted to be in her shoes but also, they are hard shoes to fill,” Carson admitted.

Because of her light hearted nature, Maclaine Lowery is used to jokes at her expense from her older sister and others.

“I’m more of the punching bag, but it’s good. I’m used to it,” she said.

Caroline adds: “We make fun of her a lot because she falls down a lot.”

One thing Caroline does not laugh about is being late for workouts in the morning while waiting on Maclaine.

Trailing in the third set of the state final against Argyle, Benedict-Gay rallied the Lady Eagles during a timeout, reminding them that they truly were a family.

“With such talent on this team, it’s easy to become individuals,” the Decatur coach said. “I had to remind them that this is a team sport. They had to do this together.

“We’ve talked about this for four years. This is a family. We win as a family or lose as a family. You can’t do it individually.”

It’ll forever be a family of champions.

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