Johnson volleyball coach Deb Eidson teaches her players about two main things: Leaving it all on the court and giving glory to God.
Eidson said that this year’s team started preparing two years ago for the success they saw this year, due to the fact that most of her starters had been playing on the varsity team since they were sophomores.
She knew that she had a talented group, but Eidson said that she had a hard time teaching them to relax and not overanalyze each point. Once the Lady Knights did so, success came in abundance, especially at the region tournament.
“We were just so relaxed and having fun,” Eidson said. “At one point we all looked each other after we had beaten Chestatee and said ‘wouldn’t it be funny if we won.’”
And under Eidson’s direction, the Lady Knights did win, taking home Johnson’s first Area title, this season in Area 8-AAAA, in her eight years as coach.
For her efforts, Eidson is The Times Volleyball Coach of the Year.
It wasn’t all easy for the Lady Knights. Eidson pushed her team to take chances and stay calm on the court, which paid off in the end.
Johnson started the Region 8-AAAA tournament strong with wins over Lanier and Chestatee, before falling to Walnut Grove in the two teams first meeting and having to face Chestatee once again.
“Going into the final game against Walnut Grove, the girls were exhausted,” Eidson said. “The last three games were back-to-back, so I really just kind of told them ‘give me all you have.’”
The team knew they were going to state, which Eidson said was one of their original goals. Their other goal was to win the region championship, which at the time seemed possible, but unlikely to the Lady Knights.
Eidson and her team had been talking all season about giving glory to God and not taking anything for themselves, so when the time to play their final match came around, Eidson had a message for her girls.
“We just looked to God and said ‘this is all yours,’” Eidson said. “We had resolved that we would be second, and he had other plans.
“In that game, it was still as if they were jumping higher than they had been jumping, some girls just stepped up and started taking those hits. I will never ever forget winning that final game.”
Eidson’s calm leadership during practice and on the court helped coax the Lady Knights into being calm, but aggressive during a match.
The team went on to host their first-ever state playoff game, and although Johnson lost to Northwest Whitfield in Round 1, Eidson believes her team had nothing to hang their heads about. However, as much as Eidson taught this Johnson team en route to the Area title, she said these Lady Knights left an impression on her as well.
“They’ll stick with me for a long time,” Eidson said. “They’re girls that I just enjoy having around.
“They taught me to give it all to God. I’m still living with that now.”