Oak Mountain names Curry’s Anna Claire Harris as new head volleyball coach

Published 10:05 am Saturday, May 18, 2024

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By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – After a months-long search for a new leader, Oak Mountain High School decided on a new head coach to carry on the volleyball program’s success.

Anna Claire Harris was approved by the Shelby County Board of Education at a regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, May 16 to become the new head volleyball coach at Oak Mountain High School.

She was then introduced to the community during a welcome ceremony at Oak Mountain High School on Friday, May 17.

Harris said meeting her new players and their families made her even more excited to get started.

“We’re incredibly excited to have coach Harris,” OMHS athletic director Chris Blight said. “Ever since my first conversation with her, I knew she was going to be perfect for our program with just her vision, her experience, the way that she communicates, everything like that. We’re really excited to have her.”

Harris most recently served as the head volleyball coach at Curry High School. In her lone season at the helm, she guided the Yellow Jackets to a 33-17 record, an area championship and a spot in the second round of the Class 4A North super regional.

Before becoming the head coach, she was a volunteer coach for the volleyball team and a varsity track and field coach.

She played four years of varsity volleyball at Walker High School, now Jasper, and made the Elite Eight all four years, including one Final Four appearance, and was selected to the North-South All-Star Game in 2015. She also lettered in basketball and tennis.

Afterwards, she played volleyball at the University of Mobile, where her team qualified twice for NAIA nationals in the four seasons she played.

As a coach, Harris wants her players to be fundamentally sound and improve on the little things in their quest for perfection.

She also stresses communication and wants to foster an environment where players and their families feel like they can talk to her about anything and the players can get along well on and off the court.

“I am very passionate, very, very vocal, but I also believe that communication and energy are two things that can make or break your team,” Harris said.

While she admits that her passionate side makes her seem intense at times, she strives to first and foremost be a strong Christian influence on her players to help them grow as young women more than anything.

“They don’t realize this yet, but the things that I teach them don’t matter as far as volleyball goes at the end of the day, because if I’m not being a good witness to them and a good influence and role model for them, then I’m not doing my job,” Harris said.

Harris was extremely complimentary of the players after meeting them and believes they can achieve great things together.

“They seem really sweet, like they have great heads on their shoulders, but I’m excited for next week to get them in hopefully some uncomfortable positions and see how they react,” Harris said. “But just based off of tonight, I’m going to go ahead and say I think that some point within those four years that they’ve got right now, they’ll do big things solely based off of meeting them tonight. That’s easy for me to say.

Coincidentally, Harris previously played club volleyball under former Oak Mountain coach Grace Burgess, who left after the 2023 season to coach at Homewood.

Harris sees a lot of similarities between herself and the reigning Shelby County Coach of the Year who took the Eagles to a top 10 ranking and super regionals in 2023, and she believes that she can build off Burgess’ foundation to take the program to the next level.

“I think that she and I have a good bit in common as far as making sure that the girls are focused and their mindset is at practice, but she also does a really great job of keeping them encouraged,” Harris said of Burgess. “She has a ton of energy as well. So, I think that building on that, polishing up as far as like fundamentals and the girls coming ready to go every single day, like 1% better every single day with a good attitude and hard work, we’ll easily be able to continue and push what she helped to start.”