Ferndale High volleyball being led by new coach

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published September 11, 2018

 Ferndale High freshman Emily Foster goes up to make a play on the ball at a recent practice. Coach Stella Johnstone said she thinks it’s going to be a “really good year.”

Ferndale High freshman Emily Foster goes up to make a play on the ball at a recent practice. Coach Stella Johnstone said she thinks it’s going to be a “really good year.”

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Growing up, Stella Johnstone said it was her dream to be an art teacher and a varsity volleyball coach.

Both of those aspirations were written down for a project she had in seventh grade.

After teaching art at Ferndale High last year, Johnstone can now say both of those things have come to fruition, as she is in her first season as the school’s varsity volleyball coach.

Johnstone was Ferndale’s JV coach last season.

“I’m so thrilled,” Johnstone said. “It’s a dream come true. It really is.”

Johnstone thinks it is going to be a “really good year” for the Eagles, who compete in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.

Aside from having some pretty strong freshmen, she said the Eagles have a libero for the first time in years.

But for as much as she would like to have short-term success, perhaps even more importantly, Johnstone has thought about what she would like to see for the program going forward.

“Longterm, I would really love to see this program be something everyone in the community looks forward to,” Johnstone said. “So, the students are talking about it, the community members are talking about it, our stands are full, people are cheering for us, they’re looking forward to our game, they’re wearing our T-shirts; we have school and community support. That’s ultimately my long-term goal: more awareness of the program.”

Johnstone noted that in at least one match this season, there was a “huge crowd,” which is something she wants to see on a consistent basis.

“Having a crowd at a game is a visual reminder that these girls are supported,” Johnstone said. “Having that crowd, I think, is really important. It shows that what they’re doing matters to more than just them — it matters to their family, it matters to their friends, it matters to their school, to their administrators, to the community. It’s not going unrecognized.”

Senior captain Lexie Crosby said this season has been “really fun.”

“All the girls are getting along really well, which is always nice to have all the people coming together and being friends on and off the court,” Crosby said. 

Johnstone said there are 10 girls on varsity and 12 on JV. She also said there was a great turnout for tryouts this year, to the point where “we almost had to create a freshman team.”

Supporters of the program may have good reason to fill the gym in upcoming years.

“I think we’re making big moves, I really do,” Johnstone said. “We have an amazing JV coach (Kristi Mathis) who’s so knowledgeable. … We’re both coaching our middle school teams together. So, it’s really great because these girls have consistency all the way from middle school to high school. So, they’ll have a familiar face when they come to high school.”

Up next, Ferndale plays at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at home against Madison Heights Lamphere.