Pampa ISD names new head volleyball coach

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A familiar face will be taking over the Pampa Lady Harvesters volleyball team next season as Kaylee Samulowitz, who coached the junior varsity team, will lead them into their 2020 campaign.

“It’s exciting to me and pretty humbling,” Samulowitz said. “It kind of felt like the natural next step for me after being the assistant for five years. I got to learn a lot about how to run a good program. 

“I am super excited to have this opportunity and thankful to (athletic director) coach Greg Poynor and (Pampa ISD superintendent) Dr. Tanya Larkin for believing in me and giving me this chance.”

Samulowitz said her and former head coach Kelby Doughty were close friends and enjoyed a lot of success which she hopes to apply in the future.

“I am super thankful for Kelby and we were such great friends,” Samulowitz said. “She allowed me to work really closely with her and we did a lot of things together. I got to learn from all of the things she did. 

“She ran a great program, obviously, we’ve been super-successful the last five years. I’m really thankful to learn from the same person for five years.”

The Lady Harvesters only lost three players last season to graduation and Samulowitz expects the same success for her squad next year.

“It’s really exciting for me to take over a program that only lost three seniors,” Samulowitz said. “We’re going to have a lot of experience and I see us having a really good year. Obviously our district got a little bit tougher with the addition of Hereford and Canyon, but I think we’ll be able to compete.”

Familiarity with her players will also help ease the transition for Samulowitz heading into next season.

“We are returning almost all of our starters and I expect them to be leaders in our program, step up and use their experience for our benefit,” Samulowitz said. “With the addition of a couple of JV girls I expect those girls (the returning starters) to take them under their wing. We just have a program full of really great kids. You can’t ask for much more than that as a coach.”

Summer workouts for volleyball is tentatively scheduled to start June 8, but the COVID-19 situation has changed what that would look like.

“Obviously it’ll be a bit of an adjustment,” Samulowitz said. “They have some rules set in place, especially for indoor sports, about how many people can be in the building at once and how close they can be to each other. We should have a full summer with a little bit of restrictions. We’re excited for that.”

Pampa will face a larger District for Samulowitz’ first year as Canyon and Hereford joins Pampa, Perryton, Dumas and Borger. That being said, Samulowitz is ready for the challenge.

“Hereford were state runner-ups last year,” Samulowitz said. “They are returning a lot of their players and we lost to Canyon in the third round last year. We know those two will be tough opponents. We’ve been competing with Dumas for the last couple years for the District Championship. They’ll be tough, as well. 

“Hopefully we will be in the hunt for the District Championship and it’s going to be exciting for me (as a coach) to have an bigger, tougher district. That gets you prepared for the playoffs. So no matter how we finish in District (as long as it’s in the Top 4), we will have a good chance to make a deep playoff run.”

Ultimately, Samulowitz is thankful for the opportunity to continue her career in Pampa and work with the volleyball team.

“As a head coach, you get the opportunity to influence a lot of girls,” Samulowitz said. “So I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be that for a lot of girls.”

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