LYNN — The KIPP boys volleyball team had a season to remember in 2018. The Panthers, with first-year head coach Evan Gallagher, went 9-3 during the regular season, finished second overall in the Massachusetts Charter School Athletic Organization and made it into the playoffs. And although their season ended with a loss in the tournament, the Panthers are happy with what they accomplished this year.
“It was a great all-around season and I was very happy with what we accomplished, said Gallagher. “Obviously, as a team you want to win it all, but we still had a great year and got great contributions from everyone on the team all year long. It was a great team effort.”
It’s always tough making the transition when a new coach comes to a team, but the Panthers didn’t suffer much with that. Gallagher, who teaches AP biology and environmental science at KIPP, already knew many of the kids and even had a few of them in his classes before taking over as volleyball coach.
“Considering KIPP is such a small school community, I already knew a few of the kids before I took over the job this year,” Gallagher said. “Not only that, but most of the kids knew each other as well, from playing together in previous years. So the team chemistry and that team culture were already very much instilled in everyone by the time I got there, which made things easier. From there, we just focused on becoming a better team on the court.”
The Panthers had a trio of stars leading the way this season, beginning with Ahmed Frour and Gabriel Clark, who stepped in at the beginning of the season and quickly proved themselves to be key cogs in KIPP’s success. But the leader among the leaders was Oliver Pyram, a senior captain who Gallagher said is simply, “a force at the net.”
“We had so many players contribute to our success this season, it’s honestly hard to single people out because it means I won’t mention everyone who was so important,” Gallagher said. “I couldn’t be happier with what everyone on the roster did to help us get better this season.”
But now, the time has come to look ahead to next season for KIPP. The Panthers will graduate seven seniors from this year’s team, but Gallagher is confident that the returning players and the influx of new talent will be able to make up for the loss.
“Next year will obviously be a little bit of a rebuilding year because we’ll be losing so many experienced players, but I still have a lot of confidence in what we have coming back,” Gallagher said, pointing specifically to a strong junior class that will be returning as seniors next year. “We’ll have a good mix of experience and young talent on next year’s team, so it will be all about finding out who plays well together and how to mesh it all to try to get back to the playoffs again.”