By Liz Smith / Special to the Times-Tribune
Despite being barely 5 foot 2 inches (in a sport that is typically reserved for taller athletes), South Laurel High School senior, Josey Mounce, has proven that bigger isn’t always better.
Being a girl of such small stature, Mounce has always had to work especially hard to prove her abilities on the volleyball court. Consequently, she is only the second local high school player in recent years to sign with the University of the Cumberlands to play varsity volleyball. (The first being 6 foot Taran (Johnson) Wooldridge, a 2005 graduate of South Laurel, who played middle hitter for the Patriots.) Josey will join the Patriots’ team on the court this fall semester as a defensive specialist.
Josey began her volleyball career playing for Coach Derrick Lowrie at Whitley County Middle School.
"Josey has drawn attention since the beginning", Lowrie said. "Fearless is the word I would use to characterize her. One night during a middle school match, I looked over at then U.C. head volleyball coach, Amanda Walton, who was there with some of her players refereeing our match. After one particularly nice dig by Josey, I remember smiling at Coach Walton, holding up five fingers, and mouthing the words, 'She's only a fifth grader.' Obviously, that was a sign of great things to come for Josey."
After playing at W.C.M.S. in the fifth through eighth grades, Mounce went on to play her freshman year at Whitley County High School under Head Coach Fawn Greer. After sitting out her sophomore year, she finished her high school volleyball career by playing two more years for Coach Greer at South Laurel.
"I've known Josey since she was very young," Coach Greer said. "She has always had one main goal in mind, and that was to play college volleyball. Now she has succeeded! It has been an honor to coach her in club and in high school. She was an asset to our team, and with her talent added to the U.C. team, I know they will go far. I can't wait to see her in her Patriot colors!"
In addition to playing school volleyball, Josey is currently in her sixth season with the Horizon Volleyball Club. The club’s season lasts most of the winter and early spring, and enables local players to stay on top of their game during the off season. Traveling to tournaments in cities such as Nashville, Louisville, and Chattanooga exposes club players to a higher level of play than they would experience in high school matches.
Josey and her family are confident that the skill she has gained through participation in the Horizon club has been the key to her being offered a college varsity position. Playing for experienced club head coaches such as Amanda Hensley (2011 UC Volleyball Alum), Chad Greer, Bryan Johnson and several others, has exposed her to a wide variety of coaching styles, as well.
“Josey is an outstanding young lady,” University of the Cumberlands Head Coach Kara Clemenz said. “She knows the game of volleyball well. Her passing abilities really stand out, as she consistently finds a way to get the ball to the setter. I know that no matter what, Josey will do whatever it takes to keep the ball off the floor.” “We are traditionally a very strong defensive program, and I am anticipating that Josey will step in as a freshman and contribute to the existing reputation,” she added. “She is a disciplined athlete who hustles after every ball. I am excited to see how she will help us in the upcoming 2013 season.”
Being a defensive player requires quickness, tenacity, and the willingness to endure a lot of hard knocks.
“Josey is a special kind of tough,” said her mother, Tracey Bryant. “I’ve never seen anyone take so many hard hits and digs, and never complain. She just loves the game.”
“Josey attended a couple summer volleyball camps at U.C. when she was little,” Bryant added. “She really liked the coaches and players back then, and thought it would be awesome to get to play there someday. Needless to say, she was extremely excited when she actually got an offer from Coach Clemenz.”
Since her club team’s recent tournament in February, the Music City “Block” Party in Nashville, Tenn., Josey is becoming more confident about her ability to play at the college level. The Horizon 18’s team, coached by Bryan Johnson and Liberty Roberts, defeated two Nashville area teams in one day, and a Memphis team the next day, eventually placing second in their bracket to a very tough and tall Atlanta team, in a hard fought tie-breaker set in the championship match.
“I think, that by the time this club season is over, I’ll be ready to start learning to play college-level volleyball,” Mounce said. “I can’t wait to meet the other freshman players, and start practicing with Coach ‘K’ and the team!”
Josey Mounce is the daughter of Rick and Tracey Bryant of Goldbug, and Mark and Angela Mounce of London. She is the granddaughter of Ray and Beverly Lanham, Mable McKillop, and the late Ivan Mounce. Her great-grandparents are Alice Lawson, Joe and Patsy Burnett.