‘We have all grown to be a family’: Good Hope’s Bailey Keef excited for senior year

Good Hope’s Bailey Keef. (Courtesy of Bailey Keef)

GOOD HOPE, Ala. — Last season was one for the ages for the Good Hope Lady Raider volleyball team as they not only won county, area, and regionals, they made their first trip to state since 2009. One of five seniors on this year’s team, Bailey Keef was glad to be a part of that amazing experience with her teammates and coach Natasha Holder and she learned a lot from last season.

“Last season was definitely unforgettable. We had great skill in all areas of the sport and had phenomenal leadership throughout the season. As a team, we set goals for ourselves, starting with winning a county championship. From there, we used that to our advantage while competing for region and state. I think what made it so special for the team and coach Holder was the determination and mindset of each player. Every girl had the winning mentality that pushed us to a state appearance,” Keef said. “It was amazing to share that moment with girls who have been my teammates since I started playing volleyball in middle school because I feel like we have all grown to be a family.”

Bailey has played for coach Holder for the past few years and has learned a lot from her so far. The past few years, Bailey feels lucky to have played with an amazing group of girls and feels like they’ve all grown together.

“I feel very respected as an athlete while playing for coach Holder. Not only does she strive to find the best in us athletically, but mentally and spiritually as well. Coach Holder is both a great volleyball coach and a great spiritual leader,” Keef said. “Playing with these girls has been everything I could have hoped it would be. I feel like I am playing with family when I step on the court. Every girl has the same love and grit for the game, and it truly shows when we play together.”

Good Hope will have almost everyone coming back this season and Bailey will definitely be one of the leaders on this team as she’ll help teach the younger players everything that she knows about the game.

“It is really great for us to have a majority of our team returning this year. Considering we have five seniors, I think it will be very easy for us to find great leadership,” Keef said. “It is important for me to be a leader this season, not only because it’s my last year, but because these girls deserve someone who is willing to set goals and achievements for this team. Personally, I try my best to teach the younger girls that it is okay to fail, but it is not okay to fail giving less than 100%. I hope the younger athletes take advantage of that this season. The upperclassmen have taught the younger players to never settle for anything less than their goal. It is always achievable with the right mindset.”

Bailey worked on a lot during the summer that will help her out this year and even worked on something new during the summer. She talked about the team goals for this year and the relationships that they have on and off the court.

“I have been working on my game as a whole and improving my confidence on the court. I have also learned new blocking skills that I look forward to using this season,” she said. “Our goals are to win county, win area, and making another appearance in the state tournament. We want to use our experience in the state tournament last year as motivation to make a run for a state championship.” 

She added,

“Considering we are all close in age, we all spend a lot of time together off the court, whether that’s in class or just spending time together during team bonding activities. This summer, we had team bond activities such as “game night” and fun at a water park. These activities have had a huge impact on our personal relationships that have now built trust in our teammates on the court.”

Bailey’s been a part of back-to-back amazing seasons for the Good Hope Lady Raider basketball teams as well. They’ve made it to the Elite Eight the past couple of seasons. She feels blessed to have been a part of this amazing experience with her team and coaches and took away so much from those seasons.

“The entire team has the mentality that we are going to succeed no matter the standard. I think we are more than capable of making it to the Final Four or even to the championship game. It’s exciting for the whole team as we inch closer to that Elite Eight game every year and it makes us want to go beyond that even more. The coaches started talking about the Elite Eight game before the season even gets started. The coaches want it just as bad as the players and I think that’s what makes it so much fun to achieve.”

Bailey feels so grateful to be playing with an amazing group of girls the past few years and has learned so much from them so far.

“This group of girls are one of a kind. I’ve never played with funnier, more competitive, and more determined teammates in my entire athletic career. This team has taught me so much and has definitely cracked my shell as an athlete,” she said. “This team has taught me that no matter the skill level, the game is about trust in your teammates and giving it your very best, no matter who the opponent is.”

Bailey has played for some amazing coaches the past few years and has soaked up quite a bit from them so far.

“Our coaches are very understanding and genuine. I know that I can go to them for anything on and off the court. They have taught me that it is okay to fail, as long as I pick myself up and try again. Communication is key.”

Bailey has really helped out the younger players on the team and took away so much from last year’s seniors.

“I feel that I have just as much experience on the court as the rest of the athletes, so I try my best to be the best leader off the court. I really push positive body language into our program,” she said. “Last season, our seniors really inspired me to not only push myself in practice, but to want to make myself better for my team. It took me a while to understand that my teammates count on me to be my best self so that we can reach our goals together.” 

Bailey has learned a lot about this team so far and has worked on a lot during the summer. She has set some goals for herself and the team.

“I have learned that team chemistry is extremely important. We are all very different in age and personality, so we spent a lot of time together during the summer and that will definitely help us this season,” she said. “I worked on my post moves during the summer and how I can take advantage down low. My goal is to be a contributor to my team’s success this season. Our team goals are to win county, area, regionals, and take home the state championship.”

Good Hope had a very young softball team last season but had a solid year overall. Bailey learned some very important things about last year. She has taught the younger girls a lot, but they have taught her a lot right back and she was really happy to see some of them step up as leaders.

“I have learned that it’s really not about winning in the end. It’s about growing as a team and learning how to get better from a loss. Although we struggled throughout the season, I feel as though we continued to grow throughout each game,” she said. “I try my best to teach our girls that age does not mean a thing when it comes to the game. If you have a winning heart, you will succeed. But I feel like the younger girls have taught me more than anything. They amazed me with their confidence and leadership this past season. It was hard to believe that we were having a losing season based off of the positive attitudes of these girls.”

She added,

“I admire the way these girls kept an uplifting spirit throughout the season, no matter the struggles we faced. I believe with this confidence, Good Hope softball is going to be the team to beat in the upcoming years, especially with these younger girls having played on the same team for so long. That kind of bond is going to be hard to overcome.”

Bailey feels blessed to have played for some incredible coaches over the past few years and from some upperclassmen her freshman year.

“Our coaches can seem very tough, but after playing with them for so long, I have learned that they really want us to be our very best. I have learned to trust them and pour everything I have into the game and eventually, it will lead to a winning season,” she said. “The upperclassmen taught me to just have fun. It’s a game and it’s over so quickly. There is really no point if you aren’t giving it your all and just enjoy every minute of the game.”

Bailey worked on a lot during the summer and had some private talks with her teammates about their goals and what all they want to achieve this season.

“This summer, the team’s been consistent in the weight room. I have done my best to talk privately with each of our athletes to talk about their personal goals and how we can achieve them together, whether that is on and off the field. As a team, our main goal is to go game by game. We want to continue to grow and get better in every game, win or loss. I am very proud of our commitment to the summer workouts, and I think it will really contribute to our goal when the season kicks off.”

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