Monday, August 15, 2022

Coaches Corner: Kim Travis

In 2020 with COVID protocols forcing high school sports to go dark, the Pioneer Review embarked on a series entitled “Coaches Corner” featuring the recollections of longtime county coaches about their most memorable teams with the goal being to reflect on the athletic past.
Now during this summer’s lull, we have returned to the same coaches, this time inquiring about the most memorable games they have coached in, asking them to narrow it down to one or two.
While not everyone chose to participate, once again the goal is to generate conversation about a few classic moments in the varied and colorful history of Colusa County sports.
It is impossible to mention every detail of each contest or all the individuals who participated. If statistics are included, they were taken from MaxPreps, not from the coach’s remembrances. With that said, no matter which team you pull for, please enjoy the stroll down memory lane.

The Arbuckle Volleyball Club 18s team finished 10th overall in a national qualifier tournament in Salt Lake City and is one of Kim Travis’s most memorable teams.

Leading off the 2022 rendition of Coaches Corner is Kim Travis, the architect of Pierce volleyball from 2010-2020, and founder of the Arbuckle Volleyball Club.

Over her tenure at Pierce, Travis coached in 320 games, winning 211, and guiding the Bears to a section championship in 2018, which earned her Coach of the Year honors.

And while Travis has numerous experiences on which to draw, including the route to that 2018 championship where her No. 6 Bears went on the road and upset No. 2 Sutter in the semifinals before downing No. 1 U-Prep in the title game, she chose instead a club volleyball tournament for an entirely different reason.

Travis formed the AVBC in 2020, in the midst of the COVID crackdown, coaching an 18s team comprised of players from Pierce, Colusa, and Maxwell high schools.

From the outset it was a year like no other as the squad, aided considerably by community support, had to practice on a makeshift court in a local tractor shop.

With play prohibited in many areas of California, the team scrimmaged when they could, continuing to toil, before getting the opportunity to participate in a national qualifier tournament in Salt lake City, Utah.

Assigned to the Open Division, the toughest of the five levels in the competition, and seeded No. 73, an undersized AVBC group more than held their own finishing 10th overall.

“We took our small town girls who averaged 5 ft.7 in. height and went against top teams who averaged 6 ft. 2 in. -and we battled,” recalled Travis. “The girls played fiercely, tenaciously, and while there were moments of doubt, it was the pure grit and determination that I remember. Those girls dug down and worked hard. They demonstrated what sports are supposed to be about: teamwork, effort and attitude. The tournament pushed them to be their very best, both mentally and physically.”

One of the team’s members, Colusa’s Reese Roper, concurred, attributing the team’s success to a belief in Travis’s philosophy.

“Walking into the Utah tournament, I think all of us were a little shocked,” Roper remembered. “But Kim told us to focus on what was happening on our side of the court because that’s all we could control. She said, as she always does, ‘Do your individual job and trust everyone to do theirs.’ And that’s exactly what we did.”

With the team comprised of players from different schools, the club had its struggles along the way, but they worked through it, learning about each other and how to overcome the obstacles.

Thus for Travis, the tournament represented something much more than athletic performance as she explained, “This was most memorable for me as a coach because something special happened that year. Not only was AVBC born, but also the opportunity for our entire community to build relationships through volleyball was created. That season created a bond usually only reserved for years of teamwork.”

Pierce’s Katie Williams, another member of the squad, also spoke about the uniqueness of the experience.

“That tournament was the best we played because we all meshed together,” Williams said. “Although nothing about volleyball is easy, and the competition was the toughest we had seen, something about our play as a whole made being successful feel so easy. I have never been on a team and had a feeling quite like that.”

Without question the AVBC did Colusa County proud and truly bonded during the experience, but according to fellow team member, Maxwell’s Laynee Haywood, winning matches was part of the fun as well.

“We had the best chemistry, supported each other like we hadn’t before and really upped our game to compete,” Haywood recalled. “But the thing I remember most though is seeing how great our competition was, then beating them.”

Next week Coaches Corner will focus on Travis’s contemporary, former Colusa volleyball head coach Tina Lyons. ■

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