Hardesty’s desire for volleyball leads to co-op with Yarbrough

Hardesty's Breanna Estrada gets a dig, Thursday against Guymon's JV. The match was the second-ever for the Hardesty-Yarbrough program, which playing a JV schedule this year. (Shawn Yorks/staff photo)
Staff Writer

In the latest round of small-school athletic co-op agreements, Hardesty and Yarbrough have combined forces for all activities and will begin play immediately as Hardesty-Yarbrough. Each school will maintain their respective mascots and will be known as Hardesty-Yarbrough, or simply “H-Y.

The schools are 54 miles apart.

The Hardesty school board approved the move last week, and Yarbrough approved it Tuesday night. The schools got the green light from the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association this week, as well.

Yarbrough has had co-op agreements with Keyes and Goodwell in the past. Other local co-ops include Texhoma-Goodwell for football and softball, and Boise City-Keyes for all athletics. Keyes is the smallest high school in the state with an average daily attendance of 10, while Hardesty is third-smallest at 23 students and Yarbrough comes in at 28 students, according to the OSSAA’s tentative ADM.

This latest cooperative effort was born from Hardesty’s desire to create a volleyball program.

“We reached out to Yarbrough because we wanted some volleyball girls (to see) if they wanted to come play with us,” said Hardesty Athletic Director Cary Corbin.” “We reached out and they were anxious to look at that situation.”

Corbin was previously the girls basketball coach at Goodwell, but left to become Athletic Director at Hardesty this summer.

After talking about volleyball, both schools realized their declining enrollment threatened their basketball programs, as well. Yarbrough entered this school year with just four players on its boys basketball team.

“At Hardesty, we know what that’s like,” Corbin said. “We didn’t have that much of a (boys) basketball team last year. The last thing you want is kids that want to play, but they can’t.”

Yarbrough’s boys completed a 10-13 campaign a year ago but graduated several seniors, while Hardesty’s boys played two games - both against Yarbrough - going 1-1 before canceling the remainder of their season.

“I think, for both schools it’s going to be a game-changer,” Corbin said. “By bringing these two small - probably two of the smallest schools in Oklahoma - together, it’s going to make for very competitive athletic programs.”

The agreement is 50-50 for all activities for students of both schools.

“It opens up tons of avenues for the kids to not only play new sports, but continue in sports that they want to play without that constant concern over numbers,” Corbin added.

The new volleyball program will play a junior varsity schedule its first season, and opened the season Tuesday at Guymon. The Guymon JV played at Hardesty Thursday, the first-ever volleyball match in Hardesty. Tuesday’s match at Guymon was the first live-action game for any of the Hardesty girls. Thursday's match was the first since the Yarbrough school board approved the co-op and Yarbrough girls were in attendance but did not play. The new combined team held its first joint practice Friday at the YMCA in Guymon.

Corbin is still putting a schedule together since most volleyball teams have their schedules set before Christmas the previous year.

“We didn’t know we’d have volleyball, I wasn’t even at Hardesty at that point,” Corbin said. “We’re trying to get (a schedule) put together.”

Guymon High School head volleyball coach Ty Ware has helped Corbin get things started with the H-Y program.

“Coach Ware has been unbelievable in helping us get this program started,” Corbin said. “From jerseys to knee pads and volleyballs, coach Ware has literally been a lifesaver to us.”

While the schedule is still being finalized, some matches have been set. The H-Y girls will play at Guymon again Sept. 9th, play host to Darrouzett, Texas Sept. 23rd, host Guymon again Sept. 24, travel to Sharon-Mutual Oct. 1, compete in a tournament at Moscow, Kan. Oct. 5th and visit Darrouzett Oct. 7th. Other games will be added.

Corbin said that once basketball season starts, half the home games will be played at Hardesty and half at Yarbrough, and the uniform color will take the black from Hardesty and silver from Yarbrough.

“It’s a true 50-50 deal with both schools trying to benefit from it,” Corbin said.

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