Model Laboratory Athletic Director Scotty Sutton had been approached by parents and students about the possibility of the school adding a volleyball program for several years.

It was an idea he very much supported.

He wanted to make sure, however, there was enough interest to seriously move forward with plans.

So, Sutton sent out a sign-up sheet.

A total of 18 student-athletes placed their names on the list.

The next week, he told all those potential volleyball players to come to his office and circle their names on the list.

"At that point, we still had 18 players, which I was thrilled about," Sutton said. "But, I still wasn't ready, yet."

Sutton had one final test.

To make sure that those who had signed up were absolutely committed to the sport, the athletic director sent a letter home with each athletes that had to be signed by them and their parents.

"I got all those pieces of paper back," Sutton said. "At that point, I said we were going to go with it."

On Thursday, Model Laboratory introduced Anthony Mayer as the school's first-ever volleyball coach.

On Aug. 15, the Lady Patriots will play their first-ever game.

"It's going to be challenging," Mayer said of starting up the program. "The main focus my first year is to make it fun, so they want to come back. The goal is to develop and become competitive."

Model is the last of Madison County's four high schools to add volleyball.

Madison Southern and Madison Central have offered the sport since 2001.

Berea Community has had a volleyball team since 2005.

Sutton says the school plans to play a full varsity schedule -- 15 to 20 games -- and will compete in the 44th District Tournament with Southern, Central and Berea.

Even though the school has never had a volleyball team, Model has several athletes with experience at the club level.

Most of the program's first-ever team, however, will likely be made up of athletes who are relatively unfamiliar with the sport.

Mayer got to meet many of the potential players on Thursday during his introduction ceremony at the school.

"It's great to have this kind of turnout -- and the majority of them are young," Mayer said. "So, that's promising for the future."

Mayer is very familiar with Model Laboratory and also the sport of volleyball.

He lettered in golf and soccer at North Hardin High School. Mayer started to play competitive volleyball while he was a student at Eastern Kentucky University.

"I saw there were tryouts for the club team. I started playing club and we got pretty serious -- and it was fun," Mayer said. "We played in the Division II Nationals twice. We played UK and UofL."

EKU's club team was ranked as high as 16th nationally during his time at the school.

After graduation, he was asked by Geri Polvino to help with the EKU women's volleyball team and stayed on when Lori Duncan took over the program.

He spent four years with the squad serving as a volunteer assistant coach and a practice player.

"I fell in love with the game even more being involved with it at that level," Mayer said.

Mayer and his family have deep ties to Model.

His wife, Jana, is the school's director of extended learning and has also taught first, second and third grade.

The Mayers have three kids at Model -- Caleb (a junior), Asher (a freshman) and Matthew (a first-grader).

Mayer has also served as a middle school soccer coach at Model.

"I love the school. I love what it is about. I love the kids," Mayer said. "I love to coach."

That connection to the sport and the school, along with his passion for coaching were the reasons that Sutton said Mayer stood out from the other candidates.

"When we sat down with Coach Mayer, it jumped off the table how much he knew about the game and how excited to be the first coach of this program," Sutton said.

The addition of the volleyball program required a significant financial commitment by the school.

Model's gymnasium is set to be remodeled for volleyball later this month. The school also had to order equipment, balls and uniforms.

The school also hired an assistant coach. Courtney Block grew up in Floyd County, where she played volleyball.

She has coached basketball and volleyball and currently teaches at Montgomery County High School.

"We are pleased to welcome Anthony as our newest Patriot coach," Model Superintendent John Williamson said. "We look forward to coach Mayer's leadership and the beginning of volleyball here at Model."

React to this story: