New Myrtle Beach High volleyball coach Alyssa Hunter knows she is taking a big step up from the smallest school in Horry County to a Class 4A state power, but she says she is ready to take the leap.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” said Hunter, who was hired to replace former longtime coach Larry Church. “I know it’s not going to be easy (following Church) but I’m ready for the challenge.”
It was that youthful enthusiasm, along with her volleyball experience, that earned the 25-year-old Hunter the top job for a Lady Seahawks program that won the 2017 SCHSL Class 4A state championship.
“She has a lot of positive energy and will be a great addition to our volleyball program,” said Myrtle Beach High athletics director John Cahill. “Coach Church helped us build a rich history and she is going to help keep that going. I think her energy is going to be great for our players and our program.”
Hunter, who played club and intramural volleyball at Coastal Carolina University while earning her undergraduate and graduate degrees, spent the past three years coaching a combination of varsity and JV volleyball at Class 1A Green Sea Floyds High. But she traces her coaching philosophy back to her high school and club playing days in Maryland, particularly an incident where actions meant more than words.
“I remember playing in a club tournament, and this was back when the players who weren’t on the court were the scorers and the line judges,” Hunter recalled. “We got some really bad calls and they were really harsh on us. They told our coach he had to sit down and not say a word or they would kick him out. That really got our team fired up. We played that team again, crushed them and won our bracket.”
Hunter played virtually every position during her career, but coaching seems to suit her best. Although her age and experience will help her relate to her players who are only a few years younger, Hunter cautions that her coaching style may be described as “old school.” She believes in team building and character development through individual responsibility in the classroom on the volleyball court.
“They can expect me to give each one a fair shot and to be held accountable for their performance in school and on the court,” Hunter said. “I don’t like when I have girls on my team being disrespectful. They have to be a good example for their school and represent Myrtle Beach High. I expect them to maintain their grades and talk to me if they need help. I believe in holding my girls to a high standard.”
That’s exactly the same bar that has been set for Hunter by her predecessor. Church built the program from a squad that barely had enough players to field a full team to a state powerhouse in his 19 years. Unfortunately for the Lady Seahawks, other local and region competitors have followed suit.
Rival North Myrtle Beach defeated Myrtle Beach in the 2018 Lower State championship and went on to win it all.
“I know Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach won it all the past two years and that’s the expectation that has been set,” said Hunter, who is beginning a new teaching career at Connections Academy. “That’s something I thought about when I went to interview for the job. I’m not scared or intimidated by it. I’m excited about it and I’m looking forward to get to know the girls and get them out on the court.
“Anytime there’s a coaching change there’s a learning curve. The new coach might do things differently than the old coach and it takes time to adjust. I want to make that transition as smooth as possible.”