Coach Watterworth takes the reins of the Iron Horse volleyball team
Philip Simmons High School volleyball coach Jay Watterworth knows all about talent.
After all, he coached at Goose Creek for a decade and six times his teams reached the playoffs, with three squads making it to the second round. He’s also coached in the prestigious North-South matches. And, he’s coached club volleyball. He and Bishop England coach Cindy Baggott teamed up to coach a team that went to the nationals in Minnesota earlier this month.
Now, the Lowcountry volleyball community will get a chance to see how Watterworth assembles talent. He’s at a new school and that means everything is fresh and untested.
“Man it’s exciting,” Watterworth said of launching a new program. “It’s a big deal. We had a good turnout over the summer and there is a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. We had between 15 and 25 players show up for a practice. But we’re going to be a very young team. We will be starting middle-school students. Our plans is to have a varsity and junior varsity team in the first year. That will bode well for the future.”
Philip Simmons High School athletic director Brion Packett said the school hired the right person for the job.
“Coach Watterworth will be a huge asset to the Iron Horse athletics program,” Packett said in a press release. “ I have competed with and against coach Watterworth over the last decade and I cannot think of a better individual to add to our team. The future is bright for our Lady Iron Horses.”
Watterworth’s path to coaching a brand new volleyball program began on the pitch of a soccer field in College. He graduated from Goose Creek in 2002 and played soccer at North Greenville University. The team’s goalie played volleyball and shared the game with Watterworth who played the sport at the intramural level.
When Watterworth returned to his high school alma mater, he asked the coach if he could hit balls to the Gator players. A few years later he landed the head job at Goose Creek when personnel changes opened the position.
“I learned and I studied,” Watterworth said. “Ten years later, here I am.”
The schedule will be a challenge because the Class AA team will not have any juniors or seniors for a couple of years. Watterworth also accepts all challenges, playing Class AAAAA teams in scrimmages before opening up the regular season. The Iron Horse will be tested right away as they play in the Colleton County Invitational on Aug. 26.
The best way to overcome inexperience is to gain experience and some of the Iron Horse players have done just by competing at the club level.
“Some of the players know what it takes, already,” Watterworth said. “Four or five played at some level and what it gave them is four to five extra months of contact with the ball. That’s what makes you better. We want our student-athletes to play other sports and be versatile. But if you play volleyball year round, you learn the intangibles and that help make you better.”