DUNLAP, Tenn. — Sequatchie County junior Keely Frederick was so young when she began playing basketball, she can't remember not playing it. However, she should be able to remember her first volleyball match.
It was Monday.
The Lady Indians opened their high school season at fellow District 7-AA opponent Chattanooga Christian. It was the head coaching debut for Kerilyn Mongar, who is hoping to create a stir with volleyball at Sequatchie County. Adding athletes like the 5-foot-11 Frederick should help.
"She does everything so naturally well," Mongar said.
The coach also believes in order for the team to toughen up and improve, it needs to face some high-level competition. The Lady Indians will find plenty of that this weekend as one of 32 teams in the 26th Choo Choo Classic at East Ridge and Red Bank.
Sequatchie County plays at host East Ridge in one of Friday's first pool-play matches at 4 p.m. Seeded pool play begins Saturday at 9 a.m. Single-elimination is scheduled to start around 4 in the afternoon with 16 teams each in the championship bracket at East Ridge and the consolation bracket at Red Bank.
"In my college experience as a softball player at Tennessee Tech, we played Tennessee and Florida State. They didn't kill us," said Mongar, who has no seniors on this year's team. "This is a chance to see if we're as good as these other huge teams. Friday night that will give us something to strive for."
A couple of years ago Frederick and her brother, 6-7 Keegan, now a freshman baseball player at Cleveland State, were taking basketball lessons from Junior Johnson, who as of six weeks ago is the head women's basketball and softball coach at Hiwassee College in Madisonville. Johnson formerly coached in Dunlap, and at the time he worked with them it was mainly at Soddy-Daisy where his wife, Lorri, is the volleyball coach.
Johnson said he believes if athletes have the ability to play multiple sports, they should. Regrets later in life can happen.
"I saw a lot of talent in her and told her, 'You need to be a volleyball player,'" Johnson said. "It doesn't take a brain surgeon to see someone who's 5-11 with a good arm swing and is athletic that they can be used on a volleyball court."
Until Monday Frederick hadn't been able to do anything but practice -- she even missed the scrimmage against Bledsoe County while recovering from having her wisdom teeth removed -- but she seems to have no regrets.
"It's been pretty good," Frederick said. "It's been a lot of fun. We hang out a bunch together. I have great teammates. I'd love to see more people come give it a try. We can always use the help."
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.