From Nederland to Port Neches-Groves, volleyball coach Allie McDaniel makes move
Published 9:07 am Monday, June 5, 2023
PORT NECHES — Allie McDaniel has met with the Rock-A-Noos student-athletes, but she has yet to see them in a practice setting.
Still the new head Port Neches-Groves High School volleyball coach is excited about the young talent on display.
She shared the freshmen and junior varsity squads are coming off district championships. Plus, there is veteran talent.
“We have six or seven seniors and nine total returners from the varsity last year,” McDaniel said. “We definitely have a base and foundation of experience to incorporate the youth into.”
McDaniel, who previously led the varsity at Nederland High School, is coming off a 30-win season that included two victories over Port Neches-Groves.
She replaces Bre’Ala Box, who was at PNG for one season and did not reach the playoffs in 2022.
Still, the Rock-A-Noos have a history of excellence.
“They have been successful for so many years,” McDaniel said. “Our goal right now is to get them back to that standard of volleyball and bring some excitement back to The Reservation. The girls are ready to hit the ground running and go back to work this summer so we can have some success when volleyball starts in August.”
Off court plans
Principal Scott Ryan said he is most excited about the new hire because of PNG’s great group of girls who already work hard.
“They are excited about the spirit that Allie (McDaniel) brings to the program,” Ryan said. “Her passion and desire is to not only make them better volleyball players but better ladies. Her experience, obviously, if you look at the trajectory of the program at Nederland since she took over just kept going up. We’re excited to welcome her to the team.”
Beyond the volleyball court, McDaniel is being asked to help lead the school as girl’s athletic coordinator.
Ryan feels the “superstars” of Port Neches and Groves are the students, specifically the seniors. And many times those senior leaders are athletes.
“The community, parents and other kids can’t wait to get behind a winner and cheer,” he said. “I do not think it will take her very long to get the momentum that she had (in Nederland) with our volleyball program. The momentum you saw with football — the people rallied around the kids — I think will be the same with volleyball.”
McDaniel said girls sports need an advocate so the community can see females holding positions of power and leading the athletes in the community.
She wants to make the students seen and known so younger kids grow up with more interactions and a desire to emulate their positive attributes.
McDaniel said she was drawn to Port Neches-Groves after speaking with football coach and athletic director Jeff Joseph and top administrators who shared a vision of what athletics as a whole plays with the school.
“They wanted someone to help on the girls side and try to make that happen,” she said. “That was enough to sell me on wanting to make that change. I want to help all the girls programs and not just the ones I have a hand in. Being able to have this opportunity to do that was something I felt I could not pass up.”
She hopes to mimic the football team’s success and connection with young children.
“There is so much excitement about being an Indians football player,” she said. “We need to have the same mentality for kids going into girls sports.”
At Nederland, McDaniel said she was able to take a program over that was already starting to have success. Her job was to make sure the student-athletes bought into what coaches were creating.
“I was lucky enough that the staff that I had all the way down to the middle schools were on board with keeping things the way they had been going,” McDaniel said. “We were able to hook kids in early on, and that set us up for lasting success. The foundation was laid in the seventh grade or before. By the time they got to me, it was maintenance basically.”
Following a long run at Nederland, McDaniel said she is going to miss the players the most, adding the relationships were about more than sports.
“Coming into a new program, you have to reestablish those bonds and them know you are here for the long haul,” she said. “In Nederland, that was established because I had been there. We are back at ground zero at PNG, but that is part of the excitement. You get to form those relationships at a different campus.”