For the first time in her 17 years as the head volleyball coach at Waxahachie High School, Sandy Faussett will have a new-ish face in the seat next to her on game days.
Faussett and soon-to-be former varsity assistant coach, Bobbie Janky, have led the Lady Indians to 10 regional tournaments over those 17 seasons. Shortly after the run to the regional semifinals last season, Janky announced it would be her last.
Faussett recalled one name crossed her mind as soon as Janky told of her decision to hang up the whistle and shelve those algebra textbooks: Stephanie Poole.
"I'm thrilled," said Faussett of Poole. "She was my number one pick. That is who we wanted to go get and I think it is a perfect fit."
Poole and Faussett have quite a history, too.
They first crossed paths as a player-coach while Faussett was the head coach at Highland Park, which is where Poole graduated from in 1999. She also played basketball and softball for the Lady Scots.
Faussett left two years later in 2001 to take the reins in Waxahachie.
It was there — or here rather — that Faussett gave Poole her first coaching gig.
Poole served as a long-term substitute in spring 2008 and then as a junior varsity and varsity assistant coach from 2008-11. She returned to Highland Park in fall '11.
Poole said it is "incredibly exciting" to return to Waxahachie and noted that, though a lot went into the decision, "in the end, it was really easy."
"When I was here for the three years before I went off to Highland Park, it was a lot of fun," Poole continued. "[...] Over the last seven years, one of the things that I felt like I have been missing is that joy and passion that I had when I was here. It is really exciting to come back. Coach Faussett and the other coaches have done a great job with this program. It is one of the strongest in the state."
Following Poole's introduction to the team a few days ago, Faussett noted that she felt it was "very important" for the girls to know what direction the program was headed in and see who would be steering the ship before they departed for the summer break.
"They needed to know that she was a good fit and would be good for Waxahachie volleyball and I think that was what they were able to do today," Faussett said. "They were able to meet her, see who it was going to be, and kind of set their minds at ease that things are going to be great."
She added, "As a team, we are always working together to reach a common goal and I consider our coaching team to be equally important, as far as getting along and bringing together our strengths. We have always been able to do that here — have a great coaching team. It's going to be amazing. It really is."
Building on Faussett's enthusiastic outlook on the 2018 season, Poole said, "What I love the most, and this is what I told the girls today, is just the work ethic, discipline and the team-first attitude that has been instilled in this program. It is awesome and is something that I am really, really looking forward to being a part of again."
When asked if she was could match Faussett's intensity on game days, Poole laughed, paused, glanced at the head coach and stated, "we work well together. I am a protégé of Faussett, and I can say that I have learned a lot from her and I love her coaching style. I think she gets the best out of her players. While I have my own unique style of coaching, what you will see is that we are going to compliment each other really well."