GATE CITY, Va. (WJHL) — In our digital series ‘High School Standouts,’ Digital Sports Reporter Michael Epps features local athletes with incredible talent, hoping to take that talent to the next level.
These are athletes that stand out both on and off the field.
This week’s High School Standout is Makayla Bays, a freshman volleyball and girls basketball player at Gate City High School.
The Gate City volleyball program has built quite a resume: six state championships and a number of former all-state players, like Doneva Bays.
“She inspires us and works and helps all of us,” Gate City head volleyball coach Amy Reed said.
Bays can still be seen in the stands this season. Now, she’s watching her daughter Makayla play for the Blue Devils.
“I look up to her a lot, I think it’s very special that she played here and I’m just very grateful for her,” Makayla Bays said.
It’s got to help Makayla to have a former player in her back pocket.
“My mom is really helpful at all times and I really appreciate her she’s just really supportive and very informative of what I do wrong and what I do right and she’s just very helpful she’s definitely telling me what I did wrong and what I need to fix to do better the next time,” Makayla Bays said.
But her mom isn’t just a former player. She’s also a current coach: the head volleyball coach at Milligan University.
“It is awesome to see her change a lot of people’s lives and how good she is to coaching volleyball,” Makayla Bays said.
“She’s got mom helping her with the fundamentals and teaching her the game and then in here we’re gonna push her as much as we can the best we can,” Reed said.
Makayla grew up around a college volleyball program, observing and practicing with the big stars.
“I’ve been into volleyball since I was five years old I’ve been in the gym since I was a baby so I think I’ve just been around it a lot and it’s a big part of my life,” Makayla Bays said.
“See her at Milligan as a wee little girl and to see her develop into an athlete a volleyball player and then a great teammate,” Reed said.
Now, she’s a freshman on one of the best high school teams in this area and possibly in the state.
“Just to try my best and just find the spots that are open I think it’s very important to encourage every one of my teammates and tell them it’s ok no matter what,” Bays said.
But she’s not just a freshman on the team, she’s the starting outside hitter and leads the team in kills as a freshman!
“I think it’s important to have a good reach on the ball and get your arms there faster and have a faster approach and faster reach to attack it,” Bays said.
“It’s fun watching her grow and she’s not done she still has so much of the game she can learn and bring to the game and it’ll be sweet to see what she does with her talent,” Reed said.
Gate City went 10-1 in this shortened season and earned the top seed in next week’s region tournament.
“I think we’ve done a good job of just keeping it together and being supportive of each other and just doing everything we can to win,” Bays said.
This team hopes to add a 7th state championship in this special spring season.
“I think we need to come together and have a lot of enthusiasm and effort for the next week and a half or so,” Bays said.
“It’s fun even through this time they’ve all committed to getting bigger faster stronger and bonding and making sure chemistry flows with each other,” Reed said.
Follow this series throughout the year as WJHL’s Michael Epps finds the High School Standout every week on WJHL.com.