AYER – With the fall sports season getting underway earlier this week, the Ayer-Shirley Regional girls’ volleyball team has a new head coach.
Taking over the Panthers program is Kim Melanson. The former Ayer-Shirley junior varsity coach replaces Ally Fillebrown, who resigned during the offseason after spending two seasons as the program’s head coach. The Panthers concluded the 2021 season with a 2-16 overall record.
Melanson spoke with the Ayer-Shirley Tracker on Tuesday afternoon following her team’s practice. “I’m excited for this opportunity. I was the junior varsity coach for three years prior before accepting this position,” said Melanson from inside the Ayer-Shirley Regional High School gymnasium. “I had a good coach working with Ally. I learned a lot and I’m ready. I’m looking forward to this year, this season.”
The new Panthers head coach shared her excitement to be taking over the reins of the program and likes what she’s seen from the players in the first few days of tryouts.
“Things have been going well. The girls look really good so far,” said Melanson, who is also the school’s junior varsity softball coach during the spring season. “I’ve been a part of this program so I know these girls, that’s really huge. These seniors started out with me when I was the junior varsity coach so we already have that bond. That’s really important and makes the transition a little smoother.”
Joining Melanson this fall on the Panthers coaching staff are Kristen Melanson, Nicole McDonald and Sammy Lawton. The trio will work together to get the most of these Panthers. Kristen Melanson will be coaching the junior varsity squad while Lawton will be coaching the junior varsity 2 team, working with the freshmen and eighth graders. McDonald will be the program’s scorekeeper and assistant coach at all three levels.
“The coaching staff, we all get along really well,” said Melanson, who is a teacher in the science department at the high school. “It’s a lot of fun. I get a chance to coach with my daughters. I’m really excited because I get to see them and spend time with them.”
Melanson and her Panthers will be tested early on as the team opens the 2022 season with three straight non-league battles. Ayer-Shirley kicks off the season on September 6 when it travels to Marlborough High School to take on the host Panthers before it visits North Middlesex Regional on September 9. The Panthers first home match of the season will be on September 13 when they welcome the Hawks of Hudson High School to town.
“It’s a tough schedule against some really good teams,” said Melanson. “It will certainly be a challenge but I think the coaches and the players will be ready for that challenge.”
Ayer-Shirley currently has 14 regular season matches on the slate. The final regular season match is slated for October 19 on the road against Fitchburg High School.