By Erika Steele, Contributing Writer
Marlborough/Shrewsbury – With the snow finally melting and the blistering winds of winter dying down, spring is finally here. And with that, comes also comes the start of spring sports.? It's a season that Marlborough resident Brittany McNally gleefully anticipates since the volleyball enthusiast knows she has a job to do.
Through the school year, McNally is a physical education teacher at Shrewsbury High School??”it's an opportunity, she said, to help students at different levels learn, grow, and succeed at a point that is appropriate for them as an individual.
Said the 24-year-old, “In some of my classes, I have students in all four grade levels who have incredibly varied abilities.? It's my job to figure out how to connect with each student.”
When the last bell of the day rings, it does not signal the end of hers.? Instead, the Derry, N.H. ?native puts on a different hat and transitions from teacher to coach as the assistant women's volleyball coach at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Working under head coach Greg Poole, McNally noted that the leadership aspects of the two jobs appear the same but the key difference is the dynamic of the particular group. Still, with each having a purpose to educate and positively influence kids in some way, her passion to lead is fueled.
“I really want to develop the group dynamic so that the students/athletes are able to trust each other and feel that they can work together in an environment that is not only physically safe, but socially and emotionally safe as well,” she explained. “I want both my students and my athletes to leave my classes/teams as better people than when they started.”
As a former collegiate volleyball player, McNally understands the importance of sports in creating a community.? She was a successful volleyball player at Springfield College so it is no surprise that her commitment to promote a team aspect is unwavering. ?In four years with the Pride McNally excelled, including a selection to the conference's All-Academic team.? She also helped her team win the league crown in 2008 and reach the NCAA New England regional finals in 2010. ?Her ability to adapt to the college level's change in speed and power was greatest advantage, she said.
“I think the biggest thing for me was what my college coach would call “volleyball IQ,”” she explained. “The college game forced me to really study the sport, not just play it.”
The impact of this philosophy stuck and she carries it into her approach in teaching and coaching.? Though the balance is sometimes overwhelming, she said she finds solace in the rewards that coaching and teaching bring whether it's a gift from her team or thank you note from a student.
“It's important for me to be involved purely because I love the game and I can's imagine my life without it!? And by staying involved I can feed that passion and hopefully share it with others,” she noted.
McNally earned a degree in Movement and Sports Studies with a minor in health studies, graduating in 2012.? Her past coaching experience includes heading the JV programs at West Springfield and Shrewsbury High School.