New coach, new season, same expectations

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The Ponte Vedra Sharks and first year head coach John Goings are off to a 2-0 start in the 2022 season after sweeping Bartram Trail in their home opener Aug. 30 and doing the same to Ridgeview on the road a week earlier.

A fast start was exactly what Goings was hoping for after taking over for legendary head coach Robin Mignerey, who built the program to what it is.

However, a seamless transition is not a surprise, as Goings has been around the program and has learned from Mignerey and done his part to prepare for this moment.

“I’ve really put it on the seniors, which were still part of those championship teams that Robin had built up,” Goings said. “I’ve put them in charge of their goals and the team’s goals. It’s up to them to hold each other accountable to those goals.”

He hopes that by putting the veteran players in leadership roles will really shine through when they encounter those crucial moments on the court late in games.

“We hope that we are able to continue and grow the culture of having those little freshmen grow into leaders by the time they get to be seniors as well,” Goings said.

Three of the four seniors on this year’s squad have committed to play at Division 1 college programs.

The seniors include Priya Rajhansa, Ava-Grace Redick, Jessica Shattles and Zeta Washington.

“They know what they want, and they want to finish strong,” Goings said.

Those expectations are nothing new, as they became the norm within the program under Mignerey and Goings hopes to see that tradition continue.

However, even though Goings is the new coach he has been around the program for years, most recently heading up the junior varsity team.

“It’s funny that you say, ‘new coach,’ because I’ve actually worked with John now for the past few years,” junior Chelsea Sutton chuckled.

That time around Mignerey has helped prepare him for when the opportunity came about to be the head coach himself.

“I’ve been under Robin for two years, but I’ve known her for 25 years,” Goings said. “I got to see how Mignerey went about building her championship program, and now I’m just incorporating it with my mindset. It’s been an easy transition for most of the girls.”

His approach is all about having fun and how he believes that translates to winning games.

“Our biggest push is to make sure that through me obviously, everything is going to be a great experience for them this year,” Goings said. “At the end of the day, it’s up to them and I just want them to have a great experience. I don’t want anyone walking out of here saying ‘I can’t stand volleyball,’ and as long as that happens, I’ll be ecstatic about it.”

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