SAN ANTONIO, Texas – For the past 19 seasons, volleyball players at Reagan High School have only ever known one head coach. Mike Carter helped establish the Rattlers program back in 1999, and over the next two decades he became the most successful head coach in the history of San Antonio-area high school volleyball. But last year, Carter announced his intent to retire, and in his final season the Rattlers finished with a 44-2 overall record and a berth in the regional championship game.
Now, Carter is gone, and a new era begins as Rachel Torvik steps up to take control of the Rattlers program.
"The transition has been very unique, very smooth and seamless," Torvik explained. "I was fortunate that I was able to start here last April, so I was able to have a little bit of time in the offseason with the kids. I know a lot of the kids from the club community, so their faces were familiar, their parents were familiar and the administration was wonderful. Overall, it's been a great transition for me."
"Coach Torvik is very hands on," said sophomore libero Lauren Briseno. "She takes control, and I really like that because I like having someone in my ear, giving me a lot of feedback."
This year's transition includes a changing of the guard for the roster as well. A total of 12 seniors from last year's squad have graduated, but even with the loss of some major contributors, the Rattlers are adamant that their standards haven't changed.
"Everything is different," Torvik said. "I only have two or three kids that were on the court last year, and even then, they're in different roles than they were in last year. But Reagan high school is a premiere program, and the expectation is that we're going to win games."
"We really have just been starting from scratch," Briseno said. "Everyone knew about it, we knew that we had graduated a lot of seniors and that we were going to have to work a lot harder from the beginning."
Junior outside hitter Raelee Allen said that the team's youth has been a big positive so far. "It brings the energy, that fun-loving, carefree, slightly immature attitude, and that's fun. Everyone has a great relationship with each other, so I feel like the youth has really helped everyone get out of that adult mode and remember that they're kids still, and we're enjoying high school right now."
"Everything's new and surprising," said fellow junior outside hitter Lylah Washington. "It's a fun team to be on and we just love working together."
The Rattlers have been more than solid to start this season, currently sitting at 20-7 overall and a perfect 3-0 in District play. But Torvik believes they're just scratching the surface of their potential.
"They're not complacent, they work very hard in practice and that transfers over to the court," Torvik said. "I know our ceiling is way higher than everybody else's because we are so new, and I know we're just going to continue to get better throughout the season."
"We haven't had the best record like we've had in previous years, but we are working our butts off," said Allen. "We are hard workers outside the gym and inside the gym. Every court that we set foot on is a court where we work hard and that's the main thing we want to prove to everyone. We're taking steps forward to help our program and help coach make her mark at Reagan."