Early in her 12th season as coach of the Wilson volleyball team, Perette Arrington threatened to quit and stormed out of the gym.
It was 2011 and Arrington had already led the Tigers to 10 District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association championships, including three in a row. The former Oxon Hill and Seton Hall standout had built a dynasty in Northwest, but that afternoon she considered leaving it all behind.
“I needed a moment,” she said.
Arrington was upset because her players weren’t performing like she knew they could, a frustration rooted in her love of the team and passion for the sport. She experiences that same unique feeling of frustration today, even though Wilson (7-5) has won 14 of the past 15 D.C. public school titles.
“It hurts me to my heart that we keep winning,” Arrington, 40, said. “I wish volleyball across D.C. would just be better. We’re just not competitive with Maryland and Virginia and the D.C. private schools, unfortunately.”
The Tigers are undefeated in conference play again this season and have won twice by forfeit. As a result, Wilson is the only public school in D.C. to play an out-of-conference schedule. Arrington said her players would never be exposed to routine plays, such as blocks and digs, if they only played league matches.
“If we just played league, they wouldn’t even know what we were doing in practice,” she said.
The 2011 All-Met Coach of the Year has done her best to boost the volleyball culture in the District over the past 14 seasons. This year, she is hosting the third annual Tiger Paws Tournament, a Dig Pink event on Oct. 19 to raise money for breast cancer research through the Side-Out Foundation.
Arrington also takes players to skills clinics and college matches in the area. She said other D.C. public schools do not pursue these opportunities.
“I’m trying,” Arrington said. “But I can’t force people to understand the importance of our sport. It hurts that [D.C. public schools] spend more time on boys’ basketball and football than they do on women’s sports. They miss out on an opportunity.”
Arrington has noticed improvement under DCIAA Athletic Director Stephanie Evans, but said there is still more to be done. A call to Evans for comment Wednesday was not immediately returned.
With the absence of strong league competition, Arrington takes more pride in her team’s quality of play. She sometimes tells young players that she has a crystal ball and can see the players that they are capable of becoming.
“Ninety-five percent of the time, she’s right,” junior Alexis Coates said.
“She really has a lot of faith in us,” senior Kristina Johnson added. “She keeps pushing us even if we don’t believe that we can necessarily do that. She still pushes us because she sees that something in us.”
Frustrations with DCIAA competition, Arrington has no plans to leave Wilson. She envisions settling down and starting a family, but even in those visions, she is coaching in the Wilson gym with a baby strapped to her chest.
“Why stay at Wilson? I don’t know, other than I love these girls,” Arrington said. “To me, it’s not okay just to have the sport. What do we have the sport for? What is the bigger picture? Do we just want them to play, or do we want them to excel in it? I want the girls here to have the opportunities that I had.”
Broad Run Coach Ellen Roberts always schedules tough matches early in the season to prepare her team for the stretch run, and this year is no different. The Spartans are 12-5, but four of their five losses have come against teams in the Post’s Top 10.
“There’s a couple of games we could’ve done a little bit better, or I think we could’ve given a little bit more of a fight,” Robert said. “But at the beginning of the season, I usually try to play the harder games. . . . It pushes the girls more quickly, I guess.”
Those early-season tests paid dividends last week, when Broad Run defeated Tuscarora (11-2) in five sets in its first Potomac District match.
The Spartans have proven to be dangerous because of their versatility up front. Senior outside hitter Rachel Hendricks played in the middle last season, while Carmen Ritter and Elise Dumouchelle can shift along the front line depending on their opponent’s strengths.
Roberts said the key now is to put it all together on a nightly basis.
“One of the main things is just to be consistent overall,” she said. “Of course, that’s probably what all coaches say.”
In other Virginia action, No. 1 Loudoun County will meet No. 3 Flint Hill at the Tournament of Champions in Roanoke this weekend. They are slated to play Saturday afternoon around 1 p.m. during a busy two-day event loaded with many of the top perennial powers in the Commonwealth. Both the Raiders and Huskies will also face three-time defending Virginia AAA state champion Kellam and 2012 runner-up Atlee.
Loudoun County hasn’t dropped a set since Sept. 10 against Briar Woods. . . . After losing consecutive matches against Loudoun County and Madison, Stone Bridge bounced back with a win over then-No. 4 Langley on Monday. . . . Sherwood emerged from its toughest week of the regular season with victories over Magruder (9-3) and previously unbeaten Churchill (8-1). . . . Severna Park (7-1) swept South River (8-1) on Tuesday night to join Arundel as the only one-loss teams in Anne Arundel County.
1. Loudoun County (12-0) LR: 1
2. Madison (20-0) LR: 2
3. Flint Hill (17-1) LR: 3
4. Sherwood (15-1) LR: 5
5. Stone Bridge (14-2) LR: 6
6. Langley (14-2) LR: 4
7. Paul VI Catholic (14-2) LR: 7
8. Holy Cross (16-2) LR: 8
9. Howard (8-1) LR: 9
10. River Hill (8-1) LR: 10
Dropped out: None
On the bubble: Arundel (9-1), Glenelg (7-1), Tuscarora (Va.) (11-2)
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