Varsity Volleyball Coach Accepts Panhandle Volleyball Coach of the Year

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Haleigh Burns accepts Panhandle Sports Volleyball Coach of the Year

 Varsity volleyball coach Haleigh Burns accepted the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame Volleyball Coach of the Year award. 

This past season, the varsity volleyball girls made it to the state championship again but fell in the title game to Lovejoy. The girls still remain one of the top teams in the state. Burns has been coaching high school volleyball for six years and has taken on the challenge of the job as head coach since the departure of Coach Jason Culpepper.

Making it to state this year was an amazing experience and I believe it really inspired me to continue working to get back there,” Burns said. I feel so incredibly blessed to have been here this year to lead this amazing group of girls.” 

They bought into me and my coaching and trusted me and that really helped with how far we went.”

— Haleigh Burns

The award was given to a number of coaches in the Panhandle for sports across the board, but the Lady Raiders volleyball accomplishments this year is what led to Burns’ ability to receive such an award.

“It was definitely a shock when Culpepper left but Coach Burns really helped us through the process by starting slow and allowing us to keep some of our traditions, such as freaky Friday (where we can wear whatever we want for practice),” senior Addison Howard said.

With the change in head coaches, the team was prepared to experience a few bumps in the road but the transition was smooth enough to allow for the girls to make it as far as they got last year and have their coach receive coach of the year.

“I am still really shocked that I got this award,” Burns said. “Being up on that stage with coaches that I have grown up watching or been inspired by was so amazing. I think with it being my first year and with all of the things that we accomplished was a big reason. The girls are the reason I got an award this year. They put in the work and make me look good, so they really deserve all the credit. Coach Culpepper has been a huge influence on me since I started coaching. He has done incredible things and has built a powerhouse.” 

With the intent of winning the State Championship next year, the team, including Burns, is working to maintain and improve on their already stellar abilities. 

“We are working hard in off-season right now,” Burns said. “We have some really talented and driven athletes coming back. The returners have it in their mind that they want to be back at that State tournament and I believe the younger athletes are so hungry for that as well. I have faith in this team because they work hard every day and want to carry on the name of Randall volleyball.”

As the season closed, the team’s seniors left the team with a hopeful look towards future seasons for the Lady Raiders.  

“I think this program has changed for the good with her leadership and she is imprinting a positive mark on all of the girls,” Howard said. “I know all of the seniors leaving had a great final year with Coach Burns.”