More than a team, Dobbins creates a family

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Courtesy of @LHSRedhawks

First year volleyball head coach Eighmy Dobbins led her team to first in District 10-5A and continues to lead them through their playoff run. The team’s success is no suprise: they share a bond with their coach like no other.

Eighmy Dobbins became the youngest head volleyball coach in school history when she accepted the Redhawks job in June of 2022. Fast forward four months, and her team is continuing its playoff run Friday at R.L. Turner High School in Carrollton. 

Winning a District 10-5A championship, and advancing to the second round of the playoffs, there is no question the year has been a success. But the secrets of that success go beyond the title to something deeper and more meaningful.

“I really want players to feel valued as people, not just athletes,” Dobbins said. “I am really passionate about my relationships with the girls, and I think it has made our team chemistry a lot stronger. I know as a player I felt my best when I felt like my coach was invested in me as a person, so I strive to provide that same environment for my girls.”

I know as a player I felt my best when I felt like my coach was invested in me as a person, so I strive to provide that same environment for my girls”

— head coach Eighmy Dobbins

A Redhawks assistant coach for two years, taking the top job was an easy decision for Dobbins. 

“I was so excited to be the head coach, I really love the culture at Liberty and love the girls, so I was extremely happy,” Dobbins said. “I wasn’t really nervous, I felt pretty prepared for the role. Head coaching is more of a big picture position. As an assistant, I had a very specific role and was more detail focused. I have definitely learned how to shift my mindset to a more long-term outlook on the program instead of just focusing on the present teams.”

Playing volleyball at Texas Tech University in 2016 and 2017 and Abilene Christian University in 2018 and 2019, Dobbins understands what it feels like to fill the role of a player.

“I got into coaching right after finishing my volleyball career,” Dobbins said. “When a player is facing hard times or having one of those bad moments, I talk with them about how myself or one of my former teammates handled the situation in order to help the girls grow and get through those experiences. During college I learned a lot from our scouting reports, practice plans, and gameplay. Getting to implement that knowledge into our program at Liberty has been a fun process and has raised our volleyball IQ. ” 

For the players, being able to relate to Dobbins has positively influenced the team on and off the court.

“I can always tell her anything that is going on and it makes practice a lot more comfortable,” junior Mary Jane McCurdy said. “Having a coach like Dobbins that bonds with the team is probably my favorite part of her being our coach. It definitely positively impacts the team. She is very committed to having a family oriented team and is always pushing us to be our best.”

Having a coach like Dobbins that bonds with the team is probably my favorite part of her being our coach”

— junior Mary Jane McCurdy

The success the team has seen is not a shock to assistant coach Taylor Ruesch.

“Working beside Coach Dobbins has been awesome. She is so knowledgeable about the sport, and I’ve learned so much from her,” Ruesch said. “The bond the team shares with the coaches has absolutely impacted the success of the team. Just like when a team is lacking chemistry and doesn’t perform well, if there isn’t a good relationship with the coaches and athletes, the likelihood of success is lower, in my opinion.” 

Competing for the Area Championship Friday, Dobbins and her team have already made their mark, whatever happens on the court.

“This season means a lot to me, all three teams have been successful on the court; but off the court we have created a more familial and supportive atmosphere which was the main goal for the year,” Dobbins said. “I couldn’t imagine a better group of players to start my head coaching career with. They have really bought into the program which means the world to me.”