PREP SPORTS: ‘You have to encourage and build others up’: Vinemont’s Jana Harbison recaps junior year

Vinemont’s Jana Harbison. (Courtesy of Jana Harbison)

VINEMONT, Ala. – In this interview, I talked to Vinemont volleyball player and cheerleader Jana Harbison about her junior year as an Eagle and what she’s looking forward to for the upcoming school year. Last season, the Lady Eagles volleyball team posted a 24-13 record and qualified for Regionals after their runner-up finish in the area tournament. Now that her senior season is about to get underway, Jana shared what all she learned last year and what it was like playing with some great teammates.

“I think last volleyball season went well, but I think our team could have gone farther. I learned that you have to work and play as a team or you’re not going to get anywhere. You have to remember that a team is not just about you; you have to encourage and build others up,” Harbison said. “Playing with all of these girls have made me some great friendships and people I can rely on.”

Coach Lance Lay retired after last season and Jana had a blast playing under him. She looked up to one of the senior volleyball players and learned a lot from her.

“He was the greatest coach that I’ve had so far in my volleyball career. He has taught me so much and I would’ve never been able to be as good as I am right now without his guidance. He taught me to push myself and work very hard for what I wanted,” she said. “One of the seniors I looked up to playing volleyball in high school was Abby Young. She was the best middle I’ve seen play at school. I looked up to her and wanted to be as good as her for so long. She taught me so much while playing with her: how to keep going and give it your all. I will forever cherish our friendship.”

Jana has learned a lot of things during her time on varsity so far and talked a little bit about the new coach, Bridgette Whitehead. She has seen a lot of improvement over the past few years and will continue to put in the work in the offseason as she prepares for this upcoming season.

“I have learned to give all practices and games 110%, to do my best and let God do the rest. My parents have also encouraged me to always do my best in everything and to never give up,” she said. “My new coach seems very determined to make us be the very best we can be. I think she has a lot to teach us and I’m so excited to see how my last season goes. The more I’ve become experienced with the game, I’ve learned to read plays better and be able to react to them faster. I will continue to work on my blocking skills and hitting. I want to make my hits more powerful. My goal is to get my hits above the 10 ft. line.”

Jana talked about her goals and the team goals for this upcoming season and what will make this team special to watch.

“My personal goals are to jump higher, so I can block and hit better. My team goals are to grow and work together to become stronger as a team,” she said. “What will make us special to watch is our team giving 100% in all the practices and games and showing what we’ve worked hard for.”

This will be the first year that Jana has done cheer and she’s learned so much from some amazing cheerleaders and from her coach already.

“This is the first year I’ve done cheer and the team really took me in and made me feel welcomed. They are all great girls and I’ve made so many new friendships. The experience was very scary at first and I felt very out of place, but my coach, Ms. Ballard, and the girls made me feel so welcomed. I’ve learned so much in the short amount of time cheering. I’ve learned a lot of cheers, all of my jumps, and I’ve recently learned how to do a back handspring.”

Jana has enjoyed cheering under coach Ballard and has learned so much from her already. She has already seen a lot of improvement in her performance during her short time on varsity so far. She’ll continue to put in the work in the offseason as she is preparing for this upcoming season.

“Ms. Ballard is so encouraging and uplifting. She is someone I look up to and inspire to be. She will always be there for you and be supportive. She has taught me to always give it my all and try my best in every aspect of my life. I have learned so much from her in a short amount of time,” she said. “My performance from when I first started has changed tremendously. My jumps have improved and I’ve learned many cheers, dances, and tumbling that I thought I would never be able to do. I will continue working on all the cheers and improving my jumps. I will also work on being a back spot and tumbling.”

Jana has some goals set for herself and for the team. She thinks the Lady Eagles will have a very special season and she talked about a couple of role models that she looked up to.

“My goal is to improve in everything I do. My team goal is to win competitions and work hard together,” she said. “What will make this cheer team special to watch is our passion and determination to be the best. My role model for volleyball was Abby Young and my role model for cheer was Annalise Kline. Abby was very determined in being the best at what she did. She had the biggest passion for volleyball. She gave every game and practice her all. She was a major influence on me and helped me improve my game. Annalise is one of the most hard-working people I’ve met. She has a passion for cheer and she always gave 110% at everything she did. She now helps me improve my skills and gives me so much advice on how to be the best cheerleader I can be. She is someone I will always look up to, because she is a person who will never give up on anything.”

Jana talked about the best advice that someone ever gave her.

“The best advice I’ve ever gotten from someone was you will never get what you want, unless you work for it.”

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