By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (January 19, 2018) — In Troy and Giddings, it was about taking the next step. In Stephenville, Shay ‘Gracy’ Douglas hopes to see the Honeybees take a step back.
In time that is, to 2003, when Douglas and the Honeybees captured the only state championship in the history of the Honeybee volleyball program. They did it primarily by out-dueling Aledo in a four-set regional final after the home team won each match in their head-to-head district confrontations.
Douglas was a middle blocker on that Honeybee team, and she recalls being literally in the middle of a bevy of talent competing in the uppermost tier of what is now Conference 5A.
That was in the ninth season of Honeybee volleyball, and after 23 seasons Douglas has been hired to replace her high school head coach, Fran Metzger, who retires in May. Metzger, who also established programs at De Leon and Granbury and coached one season at Tarleton State University, is the only head coach Honeybee volleyball has ever known.
“Coach Metzger has run a great program that she built from the ground up and left on solid ground, and I’m excited to get to come in and run with it,” said Douglas Friday, within hours of officially accepting the job, pending a vote of approval by SISD trustees, something that traditionally has been little more than a formality for candidates picked by a committee and approved by the superintendent.
“There is a good foundation in place, but you can always be better. I am going to demand a lot and expect a lot of commitment from the girls,” she continued. “It’s going to be a tough process, especially in the off-season, because I don’t believe success comes easily. But I believe the faster you trust the process the faster you experience success.”
She learned this firsthand.
“Leading up to our senior year in 2003, the green room was the place to be. We were constantly in there “peppering” balls around, lifting weights, just putting in the time because we understood that’s what it was going to take. That’s why we were successful, and that’s what it will take to reach that level of success again.”
Douglas followed her Stephenville career with five years at Tarleton State, and has never been an assistant coach. Straight out of Tarleton she went to Troy, near Temple, as head coach, and in four years guided the Lady Trojans through what she labeled a major building project.
“My last year there we got into the playoffs by going from fifth to second in district, and that was a major deal,” she recalls.
Douglas was also head coach in girls track and field and was girls coordinator at Troy before becoming head volleyball coach and assistant track and field coach at Giddings, near Austin, in 2014-15. She coached Giddings to the area round (second round) of the 4A playoffs in 2014 and the regional quarterfinals (third round) each of the past three years. She boasts a career playoff record of 7-5, including 7-4 at Giddings.
Just as big as any playoff win, says Douglas, was catching up to rival LaGrange.
“Their the big rival for everyone here in Giddings, and they were kind of a big mental block for our girls,” she said “Splitting with them last year and again this year was huge for our program.”
As was winning a district championship, something Giddings and Douglas accomplished in 2016 for the first time since 1988.
Busy building upon her own success, Douglas admits she had never stopped to think much of coming home to Stephenville.
“Back in high school and college I thought about it some, how it would be cool to come back and coach the program I played in and where won a state championship in, but since then, to be honest I’ve just been so busy,” she says. “But when I heard Coach Metzger was retiring, it definitely caught my attention. When she put it out there, though, we were still in the playoffs, so it took a little time for me to settle in and really think about what I wanted to do.”
Now, she has no doubt.
“I’m coming home. I mean I get to coach the program where I won a state championship. That’s something I’m so proud of, and it means the world to have the opportunity to come back and try to get our program back to that level and do it again.”
It won’t be easy. Neither will playing for Douglas.
“It’s not easy, not at all. It’s not easy to get (to state) and once you’re there it’s not easy to win it,” she explained. “That’s why we can’t take anything easy. We have to be faster than we are, stronger than we are and we have to be more committed from off-season to post-season. It’s going to take a lot of commitment, but the ones willing to put in the time will be the ones enjoying the success in the end.”
The Douglas Family:
Douglas and husband Josh, a member of the 2009 Lone Star Conference co-champion Tarleton football team, are parents of daughter Harlee, 5, and son Scout, 3. Josh Douglas came to Tarleton from California and is a pipe fitter and welder by trade. He is currently supervisor of construction for a major condominium project in Austin.
The Gracy Family:
The daughter of Stephenville realtor Karli Carlile, Shay has two brothers, Mookie and Stetson, who recently graduated from SHS. Mookie is currently playing football at Tarleton.
Getting started in Stephenville:
Coach Douglas says her first day in Stephenville has not been determined, and she is still working with officials at both schools to set aside a day for Stephenville athletes to meet their new head coach, who doesn’t expect to make a lot of changes to the current staff.
Patti Williams was assistant coach for the state championship team, and has gone to Granbury and returned to the same position since that time. Douglas says she is still very close to Williams, so that job almost certainly will remain hers if she wants to continue. The junior high is on solid ground with coaches D’Anna Green and Pamela Jones, and Douglas noted she has already received a message from Green sharing her excitement and saying she couldn’t wait to work with her.
Katie Fulton is currently freshman coach in volleyball and assistant coach for the state champion Honeybee soccer program. She was a “solid second” in the running for the head volleyball job, according to superintendent Matt Underwood, who has joined Douglas in recruiting her to stay in Stephenville.
Douglas knows Fulton because both played volleyball at Tarleton.
“She was a recruit when I was a senior, so I remember meeting her then, and I’ve always been impressed by her. Even between interviews we visited and encouraged each other. I think she really knows the game and seems like a great young coach.”
Underwood has similar praise for Fulton.
“Katie was the only candidate we interviewed with no head coaching experience, and she still came in a strong second,” he said. “I hope she stays because I feel like together they would be an incredible 1-2 punch.”