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Water Valley hires Rachel Daniels as new softball coach

There is a new woman in charge of the Water Valley softball program.

Rachel Daniels was hired to take over the Lady Blue Devils on April 20, replacing Allison McCain, who is staying on to serve as the school’s head volleyball coach.

Prior to taking over at Water Valley High School, Daniels took a year off to run her own business in Water Valley. She has two years of coaching experience at Oxford, working with her sister and Lady Chargers head coach Tabitha Beard, as well as coaching a season at North Delta High School in Batesville.

The idea of coaching at Water Valley always appealed to Daniels who said she was just waiting for the right time.

“When we played Water Valley when I was at Oxford, I just loved the atmosphere,” Daniels said. “I just thought it was a cool place to go and play, and I remember telling my husband that night that I could see myself coaching there if the job is still available in the future and the time is right.”

When McCain approached Water Valley athletic director Brad Embry about stepping down from the softball program and wanting to focus solely on the volleyball program, Embry said he went to work to find the right person for the job. Luckily, that person lived four minutes from the softball field.

The 2020 softball season was cut short by the Mississippi High School Activities Association a little under a month into it, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With Daniels living in town, Embry said it made the coaching search easier to navigate under the new normal of social distancing guidelines.

“We really think this school has an opportunity to be a great softball school and have a great softball program,” Embry said. “That’s what we’re counting on. We’re in the process right now of doing some minor upgrades to our facilities and planning major upgrades to our softball facilities. I’m excited.”

With school buildings closed and in-person instruction canceled for the remainder of the current school year, coaches are not able to physically interact with their players. Having been hired this month, Daniels has not been able to speak to her team in person.

The MHSAA has suspended all organized activities until at least June 1 and is supposed to meet in May to discuss plans for the summer and fall.

Given the inability to workout what will be a relatively young roster for the 2021 season, Daniels said she is doing her best to keep busy and be ready for when they can take the field next.

“Right now, I’m just trying to get the field ready and make it look nice around there to where when they come back, it already looks different,” Daniels said. “The whole atmosphere of everything is different when they walk in. … Hopefully, the MHSAA says June 1 and we can kind of hit the ground running then, with practice and getting to know each other.”

The 2021 softball season is still scheduled to begin next February as of now.