Former Western Nebraska Community College volleyball coach Giovana Melo wanted to come back and visit the area where she once played and coached.
Melo did just that. On June 27-28, Melo, who is now the Director of Volleyball Operations and head coach of Division I University of California-Bakersfield, helped conduct a 2-day camp for the Mitchell High School volleyball program at Mitchell.
"I am doing a little camp here," Melo, who will beginning her fourth year as the head coach at Cal State-Bakersfield, said. "She [Mitchell coach Michelle Peters] contacted me and wanted me to help them get a little bit better and I was excited to do it."
It all started out as a conversation to come back to visit and it turned into a couple dates thrown out for a camp. Melo arrived on June 27 amidst the wind storm that that the area encountered. Melo said she loves the area for the wonderful people.
"I miss the people here. As soon as you come in, it is so welcoming and I definitely miss that part," Melo said. "I don't miss the weather as I hit a storm right away when I was driving in, but it is the people that make this area so good and welcoming."
Melo's three days in the Panhandle was a time to meet up with her friends that she made while playing and coaching at Western Nebraska Community College. She even had the opportunity to conduct the camp with one of her former Cougar players, Gering High grad, Morgan Broussard. Broussard had two outstanding years at WNCC before playing volleyball at the Division I level at the University of Texas San Antonio and then finishing her collegiate playing days playing beach volleyball at Texas A&M Kingsville.
Broussard said it is an honor to give back to the community.
"I heard Coach Gi was going to be back in town and they asked me to come and help out," Broussard said. "I figured why not. I like to help out the girls in bettering themselves with the game. It is just a fine thing to do."
Broussard plans on going into coaching and helping with camps is something that she loves.
"My plans are to get by teaching certificate and teach PE and get into some coaching," she said. "I have been around sports all my life. I love helping others learn what I did and share my knowledge."
Broussard can't believe the five years she spent playing college sports. It definitely is something that she will remember for a long time.
"It is crazy to think that I went from Gering then to WNCC and then UTSA. I wasn't planning on stretching it out but then I found out I could extend my career with beach volleyball," she said. "I had some contacts with the Texas A&M Kingsville beach volleyball coaches so I continued on for another year. That was a blast and I loved it. I was fortunate to extend my playing another year. It is something different but it was a good way to end my college career. I enjoyed it."
As for Melo, she continues building the program, both the court and sand volleyball program at Cal State Bakersfield. She loves what she does in California.
"I am enjoying it," Melo said. "We are trying to change the culture of the program, trying to build up and getting the program better every year. I think we are getting the right kids in there. We are just trying to get better as we go."
Melo still looks to this area for volleyball talent, whether it be at WNCC and surrounding junior colleges or at the high school level. Melo said Nebraska and the Panhandle have plenty of good volleyball players.
"It has always been since I coached here; it has been a hot bed for volleyball players," she said. "The talent keeps getting better and better and it is exciting to see. Nebraska is always good and this area is getting better. I always check to see how they are doing, watching their games. Even with the high schools, I try to keep up with the kids around here."