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Face of the Game – Mally Lumpkin

Coaches across Texas High athletics choose standout players from the season
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Truth Dukes
Senior Mally Lumpkin smiles as she goes to the service line in a pre-season game against Sulphur Springs Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023. Lumpkin was selected to be recognized as the 2023-2024 volleyball Face of the Game.

Sliding on her knee pads and braiding her hair, senior Mally Lumpkin walks onto the court for another volleyball game, no different than the past ten years of her life. 

Beginning in the third grade on a local club volleyball, NET Juniors, Lumpkin found her love for the sport.

“Angie Hopkins knew that my mom was tall, and she thought I was going to be tall, so she asked if I wanted to play,” Lumpkin said. “We told her yes, and I never looked back. This will make year ten of playing.”

Club tournaments range across multiple ages, with them all playing at one time in, usually, one arena. Sometimes, hundreds of courts are set up. The scene can be intimidating for kids so young just starting. 

“Playing club so young was definitely intimidating, maybe even a little scary,” Lumpkin said. “I don’t even think we won a single game my first year. Luckily, as I kept playing in club tournaments, myself and the team settled in and got more comfortable.”

Starting volleyball so early on in life, the decision to play when she reached middle school proved to be a no-brainer. The transition seemed challenging, but the program began to help shape her.

“I feel like playing volleyball at [Texas Middle School] impacted me as an athlete in many ways,” Lumpkin said. “I feel like it started making me into more of a leader because I had already been playing volleyball for those years. I also got to play under Robin [Holland], so that started to improve my defense a lot.”

Texas High volleyball gave me a second home and friendships that I will have for a lifetime.

— Senior Mally Lumpkin

From middle school to high school, the difference in pace and skill level is obvious. Despite the drastic change in play, Lumpkin’s play proved unfazed. 

Lumpkin traveled with the varsity team as a freshman and won Newcomer of the Year in her sophomore year. In her junior and senior years, she won the Most Valuable Hitter district superlative. 

Finally, for the month of October, Lumpkin won the Texas Ford Athlete of the Month award. 

“Mally was vital to our team through all of her years in our program,” Head Coach Melissa Trotter-Hardy said. “She was a leader, and she will be missed. We are very proud of her and her success here, and we can’t wait to see what she does in the future.”

With her time at Texas High, Lumpkin’s favorite volleyball memory comes from the most electric atmosphere that the Tiger Center housed, the 2022-2023 Pleasant Grove volleyball game. 

“My favorite memory is definitely beating Pleasant Grove my junior year,” Lumpkin said. “They toilet papered my house before the game, so our whole team went in with a chip on our shoulder. The energy on the court that night is something I’ve never felt before, and I will never forget that feeling.”

Through all of the successes and happy moments come struggles; however, Lumpkin finds ways to stay mentally tough. 

“I think that it is important to be mentally tough. Having to play under so many different coaches helps with that. I know they just want what is best for me,” Lumpkin said. “Then during games, I know that someone on the court has to be able to lead and stay strong when things start going south, so I always try to be that person.”

With her school season at a close, Lumpkin is shifting her focus to club season. She is going to play for Untouchables EPA out of Dallas, Texas, under coach Ty Jenkins. 

“Playing in Dallas opposed to locally has definitely opened me up to so many opportunities. The tournaments are bigger, we get to go to national qualifiers, things like that,” Lumpkin said. “It has also gotten me more looks from colleges. Club has become less intimidating, but it’s definitely a little stressful to have college coaches on my court watching.”

Looking to the future, Lumpkin is hoping to continue her volleyball career at a collegiate level. 

“I have always had the goal of going to play in college,” Lumpkin said. “Of course, it would be great to have my college paid for, but I truly can’t imagine never stepping onto a court to play again. I can’t imagine having to hang up my shoes now, so I really hope I get to play in college.”

Volleyball is a vital part of Lumpkin’s life. The sport shaped her into the person and athlete that she is today, and it will always hold a space near and dear to her heart. 

“Volleyball gives me a sense of home,” Lumpkin said. “I can’t imagine not playing. I know when I step on that court that I am in control. It gives me a feeling I’ve never gotten from anything else.”

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About the Contributors
Kailyn Williams
Kailyn Williams, Sports Editor
Kailyn Williams is a third-year senior member of the newspaper staff and Sports Editor. She is an overachieving perfectionist, who doesn’t like failing. She is a member of the varsity volleyball and softball team and likes to maintain straight A’s.
Truth Dukes
Truth Dukes, Social Media Manager
Truth Dukes is a third year returning year staff photographer and is the current Social Media Editor for photography. She enjoys creative multimedia work, and plans to study Media Marketing after high school at the University of North Texas. Truth is excited to help lead the photographers this year aside the other photo editors, but is sad to finish her last year of being a staff photographer.

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