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A Seven Rivers sweep

All Citrus/Hernando Volleyball Coach of the Year, Scott Lyons credits a new attitude for his success in the sport.

By KRISTEN LEIGH PORTER
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 17, 2002


LECANTO -- The new Scott Lyons says his former self never would have been allowed to coach at Seven Rivers Christian, much less be in line for postseason honors.

In his coaching debut 13 years ago in the Crystal River Little League, he was known as the yelling coach, because he was "out of control."

"I was a tyrant. It was all about the wins, all about myself," said Lyons, who can recall the team's record (7-1) even though no score was kept.

After coaching the Pop Warner football Crystal River Sharks, the volatile Lyons was not allowed back for a second season. So he and his wife, Sheryl, founded the Nature Coast Flag Football League in 1994 and ran it until 1998. Lyons admits the premise behind the program, now led by a board of directors, was not a good one.

"They banned me from coaching, so what I did was say, 'You're going to ban me from coaching? I'll go start my own league,' " Lyons said. "God knew what he was doing because he was going to make good out of something I was doing spitefully."

Lyons says his focus changed 21/2 years ago when he found religion. After transferring his children to Seven Rivers, he started coaching track and assisting with girls basketball.

When volleyball coach Greg Hamilton left, Lyons stepped in. He inherited a team that finished the season ranked seventh in Class A. Among key returnees was All-Citrus/Hernando Player of the Year Danielle Albury, who was wary of her new coach at first.

"When I found out he was going to be the coach, I was like, 'You've got to be kidding me,' " Albury said. "I just literally thought he hated volleyball, that he thinks it's the stupidest sport in the world. He used to make fun of it.

"I thought, 'This is going to be the worst year of my life.' I was like, 'Should I transfer schools? What am I going to do?' "

The Warriors' lone senior came to Lyons, questioning his commitment.

His volleyball experience was limited to coaching at the junior-high level the year before. But after he took the varsity job, the self-described "basketball guy" became a volleyball nut, learning as much as he could from videotapes and books, often waking early to fit in more preparation. Statistics were charted, and team goals were set before every match.

"He turned out to be so wonderful. He did everything I thought he wasn't going to do," Albury said. "He just spent hours and hours learning the game so he could help me have a good senior year."

The Warriors went 28-2, posting a 9-1 record against Hernando and Citrus county teams with a majority of players who were underclassmen or in junior high. Central coach Jim Jensen, whose 4A squad was beaten twice by the Class A Warriors, said he scheduled them because they were tough.

"I think he did a great job, not just considering their record but getting through what could be a difficult time with a change in coaching," Jensen said. "He's a real motivated guy."

Lyons, who owns Nature Coast Title Co., plans to continue with his involvement in AAU basketball and likely will be adding club volleyball.

But he knows the numerous coaching opportunities likely would not be there for the old Scott and credits a higher power for the change in his life.

"That's how I can have the temperament and coach the girls and give them the respect that they need and deserve," Lyons said.

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