Rachel Altman is looking to give the Cedar Park volleyball team a new identity.
The Dallas-native was hired to be the fourth head coach of the Lady Timberwolves, taking over a team that made it to the state tournament for the second time in school history and advanced to the title game for the first time ever last year.
“I don’t want to compare myself to that team, I want to take us as what we are,” Altman said. “I just want these girls to get the most out of their season. If state is in those cards, then that’s amazing. My goal is to get these girls to fill in for those players that have left and make sure they are competing.”
After just one year in charge, Kori Cooper left the program to become the new director of volleyball operations at Texas Tech. Cedar Park was dominant, losing just eight sets throughout district play and finishing tied with Rouse atop the district standings.
Altman played volleyball for four years at West Texas A&M in Canyon up in the panhandle. She helped the Division II Buffaloes reach the Elite Eight and ultimately finish in a tie for third in 2006.
Her coaching career began as an assistant at Hereford High School where they won the 4A state title in 2008. She then went to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and served as an assistant for two seasons.
She got back in the high school ranks at Mary Carroll for two seasons, winning an outright district title and reaching the playoffs in both years at the helm. She wanted to move back to her hometown of Dallas, and took a junior varsity position at Highland Park, where she has been for the last four years.
For a couple years, Altman came to the Austin-area to do summer camps, and Cedar Park was one of the schools that participated. She said the community and camaraderie of the local coaches made Cedar Park a dream school to be at.
“I’m a very intense coach a lot of time, but at the same time I want them to coach themselves,” she said. “I want to create players that can act and catch themselves to take that next step where they need me less and less as the years go on.”
Cedar Park loses a wealth of talent from last season in three-time All-Central Texas setter and District 19-5A MVP Lindsey Ledyard, middle hitter Luci Albertson, who earned TGCA all-state honors in 2015 and middle blocker Alana Geymer, who were both named to the All-District first team.
But the Lady Timberwolves bring back 10 players from the state tournament season, including first-team All-District middle blocker Andrea Grimm and second-team All-District juniors Taylor Nunez and Emily Fry.
What the team is working on right now is how to be a servant to the program and not just a leader, putting the team above themselves.
“You can tell that these seniors are hungry to step in and figure out what their roles will be,” Altman said. “We have three captains and each one of them bring something different to the table. Together, they kind of make that awesome perfect leadership hopefully.”