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Coaches

Thank you to our EVA Coaches

An organization can have a great idea, concept or a product, but to see that come to life you need great people to exemplify organizational core principles and values and that is what we have in our amazing EVA coaches!!!  We are so proud of our coaches as they are EVA's greatest resource.  Our coaches are the ones who are the face of EVA, who believe in our culture of positive coaching and working together to make the meaningful experience for all our athletes.  We are proud to have a group of most wonderful, committed and knowledgeable coaches with great integrity, work ethic, and character.  We work together to learn from each other, and continuously through the season and the year continue to develop and expand our knowledge.  
We are an organization where coaches collaborate and support one another. 
If you would like to be a part of our EVA coaching team, e-mail us at eckartvolleyball@gmail.com and tell us why you coach - because your 'why' is the most important to us and our athletes!

Congrats to EVA 16 Elite Coach Pagie Gantar on being selected to AVCA's ThirtyUnder30

EVA Coaches 2022/23

ELITE level
EVA 18 Elite - Catherine Griffith (UCA Assistant)
EVA 17 Elite - Tanja Eckart
EVA 16 Elite - Markie Alberius
EVA 15 Elite - Paige Gantar
EVA 14 Elite - Becca Niedzwiedz / Tanja Eckart 

NATIONAL level
EVA 12 National - Madison Greer
EVA 13 National - Dani Moura
EVA 14 National - Elizabeth Griffith
EVA 15 National - Victoria Barnhill

EVA Coaches love and play the game

Tanja Eckart-Club Director-Master Coach-Recruiting Coordinator -17 Elite Head Coach

Tanja Eckart is a 2012 UA Little Rock Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee and is the only volleyball player in the school history to receive this honor. The most recent coaching recognition for Eckart was being named American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) 2020 16’s Coach of the Year. This is a special award because it is on the national level among all clubs in the nation. Eckart won this award while leading her 2020/21 EVA 16 National Team to 22-8 season.
Coach Eckart’s college coaching experience includes seven years of Division I coaching; four years as an assistant at UALR and three years as an assistant at Florida International University.  In these roles as NCAA division I assistant, she had the opportunity to serve as a recruiter which provided her with the knowledge of what coaches are looking for in recruits to give her experience to guide players today in their recruiting process.  Along with recruiting process knowledge she has many connections with coaches currently at different levels from junior colleges to four year universities at different divisions. 

She also has 24  years of coaching club level experience (6U - 18U) at various clubs:  Little Rock Juniors, South Florida VB, Miami Elite and her own Elite Volleyball Academy. 

Alongside running Eckart VB, skills & player development trainings, clinics and camps for the past eight years, in the fall of 2017 Eckart formed Elite Volleyball Academy.  EVA in it's inaugural season had three teams (12's, 14's and 15's). All three teams enjoyed a lot of success which Eckart contributes to the coaching philosophy and principles implemented to create hard-working and positive environment paired with quality of training and knowledgeable coaches provided at EVA. In the second season EVA served seven teams and the biggest success was achieved by EVA 15 National team lead by Eckart as they reached their goal and qualified for the Junior National Championship in Indianapolis. EVA looks to continue to grow slowly and methodically to continue to be the leader in quality of service provided. In 2020/21 season Eckart's EVA 16 National team won ASICS Show Me national qualifier and earned a bid for 16 USA for USA National Championship held in Las Vegas. That was a huge achievement as it was the first time that team from central Arkansas won a national qualifier in USA division. 

Coach Eckart has over 20 years of experience coaching summer volleyball camps at various universities across the nation including UALR, FIU, the University of Florida, the University of Miami and Miami Dade College.  Additionally, she has 17 years of experience of personally organizing and running camps including three years of university camps at FIU as well as eight years of experience running “Eckart VB Camps” which include Little Spikers, Pass.Set.Hit., Volley Jams, and Elite VB Camps.  Upon her return from Miami to Little Rock coach Eckart saw the need for beginners volleyball programs and started and lead Future Stars for five years. Since its inception in 2013, the program has had much success exposing hundreds of young players, ages 7-12, to the wonderful sport of volleyball and changing the culture in central AR of when young players get involved in volleyball.  For many players it use to mean 7th grade when they had an opportunity to play on a school team, but with program like Future Starts players had a way of learning the skill and the game as young as 1st grade.  Consequently with beginners programs, the growth of interest in volleyball and a younger age when players got involved, many schools caught on and started offering volleyball beginning in the 5th grade.

As a player, Tanja played four years for UALR (1997-2000) and won many individual and team awards including Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the year (1997); Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year (2000); three-time All-Sun Belt Tournament Selection (1998, 1999, 2000); and was the only player in UALR school history picked four times to 1st All-Conference Team (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000).  In her four years on campus, the team had three NCAA Tournament Appearances, captured three Sun Belt Conference Tournament Titles (1997, 1998, 2000) and three Sun Belt Conference Regular Season Titles (1997, 1999, 2000).  As she finished her collegiate career she held many school records including UALR all-time leader in kills (1,710) – a record that stood for 14 years, UALR career leader in hitting attempts (4,211) – 21 years later 2nd on the career list, UALR career leader in service aces (222) – currently still holding the record and UALR career leader in digs (1,156) – currently 5th on all time list.

In 2005, Eckart was the only UALR vb player named to the All-Time Sun Belt Volleyball team as part of the league's 30th anniversary celebration. 

After graduating in 2001, she was part of the United States Professional Volleyball (USPV) league selected through tryout phase in which she was one in total of 11 players picked among 120 to play professional volleyball for USPV.  The league had four teams which were comprised of nation's top VB players and 11 picked from the tryout phase.  Tanja was drafted by Chicago Thunder and had the opportunity to practice and play among nations top players including teammates like Jennifer Kessy, 2012 USA Olympic Silver Medalist in Beach Volleyball, Penn State standouts Terri Zemaitis-Boumans and Bonnie Bremner to name just few but the league consisted of players who played for the top vb programs in the nation (USC, UCLA, Penn State, Stanford,..) and many went on to represent USA in the Olympics like Lindsey Berg in indoor and Jennifer Kessy and Nicole Branagh in beach volleyball. 

Over the years Tanja continued to participate as a player in many USA Open National Championships in various cities (Minneapolis, Phoenix, Orlando, Austin) -2007 being the most memorable as the team won gold in A division.  Over the last 10 years Eckart also played in countless sand volleyball tournaments especially while living in Miami , Florida for 8 years.  Playing sand volleyball is still today her favorite activity.

Eckart, Croatia native, graduated with a Bachelor of Business with emphasis in Management from UALR in 2001 and with a Masters in Business Administration in 2004 also from UALR.  She is married to John Eckart since July of 2004 and the couple has two sons Filip (14 yo) and Daniel (10 yo). 

Daniele (Dani) Moura - Master Coach - 13 National Head Coach

Coach Dani has been instrumental in EVA's development from its start in 2017/18 season. She has been in a role of a Master coach helping onboard new coaches and provide help and guidance to all the young coaches joining the program. 

Coach Dani has been named the Head Varsity Coach for Pulaski Academy and is in her first season leading the Bruins. 

Coach Dani is a former UALR player. She is originally from Cuiaba-MT, Brazil. There she played for Finasa Osasco for four years and for Sacramento, Minas Gerais for one year. In 2004 while playing for Sacramento, she and her team won Minas Gerais regional and All-State. In 2005 and 2007, when she played for Finasa Osasco her team won All-State and regional championship, and took second place at All-State and Regional championship in 2006 and 2008.

2020/21 season coach Dani was a Head Volleyball Coach at Pulaski Academy for 9th grade while she helps with 7-8th grade team and assists in JV/Varsity. Her 9th grade team went undefeated and won a conference. She step back from the program to take care of her newborn baby Ayla. 

Coach Daniele Moura came to the United States in 2009 to play college volleyball for University of Arkansas at Little Rock.  She played four years for UALR (2009-2012). In 2012, she helped lead her team to their first Sun Belt Conference Division Title since 2000. She was an original DS/Libero player. However, she was able to play several positions when they needed her (outside hitter, middle blocker and setter). She also helped her team earn Student Athlete with a GPA of 3.00 in 2011 and 2012.  She graduated with a bachelor of International Business with emphasis in Spanish language. She started her Masters in Sports management, and completed 2 years, but she had to stop due to her pregnancy. She looks forward to go back to school and finish her Master’s degree.

Coach Daniele Moura is also known by Dani. She got that nickname since she was a little girl. Coach Dani has been coaching for total of 12 years. In 2014, she was a graduate assistant for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for the volleyball team.  She coached five years for Little Rock Juniors club on different age groups (12-17 years old). Prior to accepting the position with Pulaski Academy, Dani has been coaching for Baptist Prep for the last three years. She also offers indoor private lessons and beach volleyball lessons. She has been working with Eckart Volleyball for 6 years and coached countless skills clinics and summer camps. She started coaching for EVA when first was created it in 2017. She is going to her 3nd year coaching for EVA. This past season 2018/19, Dani was a head coach for EVA 15 Regional Team which ended up ranked 7th in the entire Delta Region out of 80 teams.

As a juniors club coach, she has coached/trained so many girls over the past years and some of them have achieved very important goals. One of them got qualified on the High Performance to play USA juniors summer program. Coach Dani is Beach CAP I certified coach. 

Coach Dani is married to Doca and has two daughters: Elisa (5) and Ayla (2yo).

Markie Alberius -Master Coach - 16 Elite Head Coach

Markie starting her fourth year as EVA's highest level coach. She has a wealth of knowledge of the high level volleyball systems and is a perfect fit for high level teams along with her excitable and positive coaching style.

Markie was named Head Varsity Coach for the historic Central High School in the spring of 2021 and in the short time transformed the program with her focus on skill improvement and changing the culture. In her first season already Central has won more matches than Central teams combined in the last seven seasons.  In her first season she lead the Tigers to their first State Championship tournament after close to twenty years of drought.

Markie played for Arkansas State University and graduated with Occupational Therapy degree. After getting her undergraduate degree she served as a student assistant coach for the A-State volleyball program on 2017-2018 while obtaining her Masters in OT. 

During her time with Red Wolves' she was working with defensive specialists and liberos. The team averaged 15.42 digs per set.

A native of Little Rock, Ark., Schaedig helped coach the team's back row and libero, the position she excelled at for the last three seasons at A-State. She was the program's first All-American with Honorable Mention honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) in 2014 and claimed the accolade once again to become the Red Wolves' first two-time All-American.

Additionally, Alberius was a three-time Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year from 2014-16 and was First-Team All-SBC all three of those seasons. She garnered AVCA All-Southwest Region accolades from 2014-16 and finished with the third most digs in school history with 2,153 during her four-year career. She set the school record for digs in a season in 2014 with 762 and led the nation with a 6.68 per set mark.

Markie played for Little Rock Christian Academy as four time varsity player and led LRCA to the 5A state championship match in her junior and senior seasons. She was named All-Conference, All-State, and All-State Tournament all four years of high school career. She was elected as one of the top 25 volleyball players in the state of Arkansas after freshman season. 

Paige Gantar - Master Coach -15 Elite Head Coach

Paige is in her third season as a Head Varsity Coach at Episcopal Collegiate School (ESC) and Lower School Physical Education teacher, sixth season as EVA Head Coach, and 12th season of coaching all together.  Paige took over ECS Varsity Volleyball in the summer of 2020 and has transformed it past the recognition. Last season the Wild Cats were 3A Conference Champions while Coach Paige was named Conference Coach of the Year. Paige also received a huge recognition from AVCA by being name to the AVCA 30 Under 30 List.  
Paige has been coaching club for the last twelve seasons.  She is returning to her sixth season with EVA as the coach for the highest level team. She graduated from Mount Carmel Academy, in New Orleans, LA, where she was part of the All-Star Team in 2009. She received a full athletic scholarship to the University of Arkansas-Little Rock (2009-2011), graduating in 2012 with a bachelors in Health Science. While at UALR, Paige was named Mississippi State's All Tournament player, Memphis University's All Tournament player and attended the Sunbelt Conference tournament every year. She finished her senior year at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) and led her team to an undefeated season (21-0) finishing as Southland Conference Champions and holding the overall highest hitting percentage as a middle blocker. She graduated from UCA with a Masters of Science in Health Science in 2015. During her time at both UALR and UCA, Paige was awarded with the Sunbelt Conference Academic Honor Roll, the Southland Academic Honor Roll, Deans List and Chancellors List.

Prior to joining EVA six years ago, Paige was a head coach for Little Rock Juniors (10U-12); Arkansas Eagles (independent club 16s), and NOLA Volleyball (13s & 14s). 

In 2018/19 season Paige was the Head coach for EVA 13 Regional team and led them to an impressive 4th overall rank in the Delta Region out of 97 teams in 13U age group. Last club season 2019/20, was cut short due to COVID-19, but Coach Paige's 13's regional team was showing incredible amount of growth and improvement in what turned out to be a short season for all. In 2020/21 season, Paige led EVA 14 National team to 46th placement at USA Junior National Championship in the National division. In 2021/22 season Paige lead 16 Elite team and won three tournaments while playing in an age group up. 

We are extremely proud to see coach Paige continue to excel in professional career as we see her growth over the years and how she "arrived" at coaching philosophy that perfectly aligns with EVA culture. 

Catherine "Cat" Griffith - 18 Elite Head Coach

We are excited to join Catherine Griffith to EVA coaching staff as she currently severs as an Assistant Coach at UCA. She joined the Sugar Bears fresh off of being the Interim Head Coach at Catawba College, in which she led the Indians to an 8-10 conference record and an 11-14. 
Griffith, a 2019 graduate of the University of Louisiana-Monroe, is entering her fourth year of volleyball coaching. Her experience, however, reaches far beyond that, as she was a member of the War Hawks’ Volleyball and Beach Volleyball teams. 
In her volleyball career, she posted 225 blocks, and was named second-team All-Louisiana in 2018.  After her playing career, she received her MBA from Louisiana-Monroe in 2020, while coaching the  North East Louisiana Volleyball Club in the process.
Prior to accepting the assistant coaching role at UCA, Catherine was with Catawba College in 2021, and eventually took over as the Interim Head Coach during the season.

Becca Niedzwiedz - 14 Elite Head Coach

Becca is Pulaski Academy Junior High Head Coach and Varsity Assistant Coach. Becca is entering third season with EVA while already has 6 years of coaching experience. She has been involved in volleyball for as long as she can remember. She played for Mount St. Mary Academy for four years and went on to compete at Henderson State University upon highs school graduation. After playing her freshman year at HSU, Becca changed over to cross country and became volleyball manager at the same time. Her lover for volleyball was nurtured through four years of coaching Eckart Volleyball summer camps and waiting for the day to get into club volleyball knowing that this sport has her heart. Becca was coaching four years of Little Spikers and Pass.Set.Hit. camps where she was focusing on teaching skill fundamentals along with game for the young  players. Teaching base-to-release has become a staple of hers.

She is currently getting her masters in Sports Administration from HSU where she also got her Bachelors in Sports Management. 

When asked about some of the most memorable things from volleyball playing days Becca quickly remembers getting her first block as 5'5" player but follows it with priceless bonds and  relationships made over the years as the best part of her volleyball career.  Becca is successfully competing on HSU cross country team and recently broke her PR on 5K running it below 22 min. Becca is another player who made a huge impact on Coach Eckart during their training days and made long lasting relationships through coaching camps together for four consecutive summers. We are most proud of Becca as she is one of the huge volleyball enthusiasts who bring bubbly personality to the gym each day. 

Alicia Jackson - Master Coach

Coach Alicia enters her fifth season of coaching for EVA. She has spend the last four  seasons developing young athletes from the ground up serving as the head coach for our 12-14u teams. She has a great leadership skill along with knowledge of transition and systems so are thrilled to add her to our elite level teams while keeping in the development age group. She has a perfect balance of strong leadership to keep the skill and team development and a nurturing side so she has been excelling and putting a great stamp on EVA athletes. Alicia has been one of the cornerstone coaches in developing EVA culture to what it is today.

In 2020/21 season she was the head coach for 13 Regional Plus team which went on to have one of the most impressive and successful seasons in the club with three tournament champion titles in a row.  Last season her 14 Elite team suffered a great deal of unforeseen challenges with major injuries that took several players for the great majority of the season and a season ending injury. 

Alicia was born and raised in Arkansas. She was introduced to volleyball at the age of 12 and quickly fell in love with the sport. She has a true passion for the game and the impact it has had on her life. Her relationship with her own high school coach showed her first-hand the impact a positive, involved coach can have in the lives of their players and she models her coaching style after this example.

She has been playing volleyball for 26 years. She played 7 years in school and 6 years of Club volleyball as a middle hitter and setter. She graduated from Sheridan High School where she was awarded multiple All-Conference and All-State honors. She capped off her high school career being named to the Arkansas All-Star Team in 1999 where she was awarded the All-Star MVP title. She was awarded a scholarship to the University of Central Arkansas where she started as a freshman.

There she earned her Bachelor’s of Speech Communications – Public Relations that she took with her to Los Angeles to work in Entertainment PR following graduation. She eventually returned home to be closer to her family and began coaching Club volleyball while she completed her Masters in Management degree.

Alicia currently works at PerfectVision Manufacturing Inc. as a Vice President .  She married her husband, Joshua in 2013 and they had their daughter Olivia in 2015. Her love of the game motivates her to incorporate volleyball in her life despite her busy schedule and she is thrilled to return to another season with Elite Volleyball Academy.

In previous EVA seasons, Coach Alicia was EVA 12 Regional team Head coach for the season 2018/19 and they placed overall 12th in the Delta Region ranking out of 73 team.  2019/20 season was cut short due to COVID-19 pandemic but the most memorable accomplishment for coach Alicia's 13 Regional Plus team was winning President's Day Classis in St. Louis coming with a tournament trophy in 13 club division. 

Madison Greer - 12 National Head Coach

Coach Madison is in her fourth season after yet another season breaking leadership with her EVA 12 National team that finished 5th in the nation at AAU Nationals in Orlando. This team was so extremely competitive and successful that it played in the 7 finals out of 9 tournaments the entire season. Season 2020/22 Madison coached EVA 14 Regional Plus Navy won 3 tournaments and got Gold bracket championship at Ozark Challenge, Mississippi Mayhem, and Volley in the Rock. 
Coach Madison was also involved in coaching EVA Beach Academy and she works as private/semi-private coach on skill development.  We are really excited to see what Madison continues to do with her positive coaching outlook, contagious energy, and player development skills.

Madison Greer began her volleyball career in the 5th grade at the age of 11. She played varsity for Mount Saint Mary Academy (7A Division) from 2010-2014 as a defensive specialist/Libero (DS/L). Every year, she led her team to the state tournament. Madison played for Little Rock Juniors Volleyball Club for 6 years, 2 of those years were spent on a nationals team.
She received a full scholarship to play volleyball at Southern Union State Community College in Wadley, AL. She played there for one year and transferred to further her volleyball career at an NAIA college in Ottawa, Kansas, where she played at Ottawa University her sophomore and half of junior year. 
After her fall semester of junior year at Ottawa University, she transferred to UCA to focus on her studies. In December 2018, she graduated from UCA with a Bachelor’s of Biology in Health Science. Madison is currently attending UALR Nursing School. 
Madison has coached five seasons of club volleyball. Her first coaching assignment was with a group of 10 year olds at Performance Volleyball Academy in Overland Park, Kansas. The next two seasons were spent coaching 13 & 14 year olds for LRJ.
Madison is very excited to coach her sixth year and continue her journey with EVA. She fully loves EVA coaching philosophy and being part of the coaching environment where growth and learning are encouraged. 

Elizabeth Griffith - 14 National Head Coach

Coach Elizabeth is entering her 2nd season as an EVA club coach. She spent her first season as a club coach with the 15 National team. As a very young coach she brings a great level of knowledge about the game, leadership, and player development. Elizabeth started and played for Pulaski Academy all three years on Varsity team. She went on to receive All-State each of those three years and was rewarded All-Star her senior year.
After finishing high school, Elizabeth went on to play D1 college volleyball at Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina. She started all four years of college while earning BA in Psychology. She now works as a CNA in home health care for the elderly.
Elizabeth is well known by those attending Eckart VB camps as she was a camp coach for Pass.Set.Hit. and Volley Jams for the past four summers. Those camps are high in learning game concepts with focus on transition (base to release depending on the situation), so we know how knowledgeable Elizabeth is about the game, systems, and leadership. Elizabeth come from very athletic family and has 7 siblings. One of her younger sisters, Sandra, played couple years for EVA before she chose soccer as number one sport where she is excelling as a goalie.

Victoria Barnhill - 15 National Head Coach

Victoria played and started at Cabot all three years from 2012-2015. She went on to play at Ouachita Baptist University. While at OBU, Victoria and her team won the GAC conference tournament in 2016. The fondest memory from the championship is that she hit perfect hitting percentage (very, very rare in volleyball). She also has coaching experience in a local club in Arkadelphia where she coached 14U team. Victoria is in her first season as a Junior High Coach at Episcopal Collegiate School (ESC). She has been coaching club for EVA the last two season and is returning for her third season.
Victoria graduated in May of 2020 with a BA in Biology with a minor in Psychology. Victoria is currently receiving her Doctor of Occupational Therapy at UCA.

Veronica Marin

Veronica is returning to EVA for the second season. She has seven years of club coaching experience.  

Veronica played volleyball for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock during 2015-2018 and graduated with degrees in Marketing and International Business and a certificate in Professional Sales. In her collegiate volleyball career she was used as a utility player as she served her team in multiple roles over the 4 seasons  plying outside hitter, opposite (right side hitter), and a middle blocker. 

Quite decorated as a player Veronica received following awards and achievements: Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year (2018), First Team All-Sun Belt Conference (2018), Sun Belt All-Tournament Team (2018), 5 x Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week (2017-2018), CoSida Google Cloud Academic All-District First Team (2018).
Going into collegiate season she would be tabbed as a player to watch receiving pre-season awards: UCA Invitational All-Tournament Honor (2018) Rebel Invitational All-Tournament Honor (2018), Holiday Inn Express SFA Invitational All-Tournament Team (2017), UCA Invitational All-Tournament Team (2017), Southern Miss Invitational All-Tournament Team (2017), Little Rock Invitational All-Tournament Team (2016).

Some of the personal records that she achieved in her playing career include: 2018: Led the Sun Belt Conference in both hitting percentage (.399) and blocks per set (1.48) while ranking ninth in the conference in kills per set (2.61). Ranked fifth nationally in total blocks (185), 11th in hitting percentage (.399), and 13th in blocks per set (1.48).  Ranked second in the school program history for total blocks in a single season (185). Ranked third in the school program history for career blocks (438). Set a new school record for hitting percentage (.399). 

Veronica is originally from Tulcea, Romania. 

Bailey Korte

Bailey is Head Volleyball Coach at Harmony Grove in Benton. She is starting her second year there arriving from Wynne Junior High School after her team went 17-3 and finished 3rd in the conference as well as the conference tournament.
Bailey started playing volleyball in the 8th grade at Benton, back when volleyball was not offered until 7th grade. She played DS all five years at Benton (6A back then). Her team was undefeated conference champions in back to back years her junior and senior seasons. State runner up her junior year and semifinalists her senior year. While in Benton, she earned all conference honors. Her school team played for Saline County Chaos her junior year.
After high school, Bailey attended UCA to become an athletic trainer, but quickly changed my major to teaching/coaching.
Over several club seasons, she coached for Saline County Chaos in  15-16u age groups.  

At Harmony Grove she oversees and runs the entire program, grades 7-12. Since her arrival, the program has seen a lot of growth and improvement and she is excited to see the continued progress over the years. Bailey's senior high team has a chance to go to the state for the second time in school history this year and her junior high team, who only won four games last year, had a great off season and has now started this year out 4-0.

Bailey is very passionate about this sport and is excited to join the EVA coaching staff this season. 

Dave Carter

Dave is in his fifth season as the head coach of the Bauxite Lady Miners, coaching grades 7-12.  When he joined the program before the start of the 2018 season, Bauxite had only five wins and no post-season award recipients.  In the past five seasons, he’s led Bauxite to 54 wins, two consecutive state tournament bids, and his players have received five All-State selections, 15 All-Conference selections, and two players have gone on to play in college. 

Although this is his first year with EVA, Dave has previously coached seven seasons of club volleyball.  He believes that teaching and coaching is a calling, and feels that his purpose is to help students and athletes achieve their dreams.  In addition to coaching, he’s also a certified science and math teacher who embraces everything nerdy.  He currently teaches middle school science at Bauxite, where he was named Teacher of the Year in just his third year of teaching. He is a Summa Cum Laude graduate in Education from Harding University and graduated with his Masters in Teaching with Distinction from Southern Arkansas University. 

Before becoming an educator and coach in 2018, Dave spent 20 years in the business sector in retail, construction, and commercial real estate in Central Arkansas.  He was also a youth ministry leader at the Little Rock Church of God for 11 years including six years as the lead youth pastor helping young people.

A veteran of marriage for almost three decades, he does life daily with his lovely wife, Amy.  Their oldest daughter Emma is a recent graduate of Mississippi State University with a degree in aerospace engineering and just completed a research fellowship at the University of Tennessee Space Institute this summer.  Their youngest daughter Claire, a senior at Benton High school, is the lead manager for the Benton Lady Panther Volleyball program, and is planning to study architecture in college next year.

Dave loves all things sports, exploring in nature, reading for pleasure, immersing in creativity, and he’s always up for new experiences.

Taylor Sherrill

Taylor is excited to be joining the EVA family for the 2022-2023 season! This will be her sixth season as a Junior Olympic Coach in the state of Arkansas. She is thrilled to be coaching closer to home this year!

Taylor played her high school career at Central Arkansas Christian (2007- 2010) as a setter, utility player earning an All Conference Honor her senior year. During club seasons she played with Little Rock Juniors (16s/18s) as a libero/DS and Fatchmo Volley (18s) as a libero. She went on to play a season with Harding University Bison (DII) as a DS before pursuing other interests.

She has coached a variety of ages over the years. She is also the current Head Junior Varsity and Assistant Varsity coach for Central Arkansas Christian Schools in North Little Rock for the last four years. With experience across many different age levels Taylor is excited to continue to expand her coaching knowledge and effectiveness with the Elite Volleyball Academy this season!

Abigail Herman - 11 Regional Head Coach

We are excited to add Abigail Herman to return to  EVA coaching staff after successful last season leading our top 11st team. Abigail's team was competing locally in an age group up and excelled in learning the skill and the game under coach Abigail's excitable leadership. Coach Abigail's team finished the season being crowed champion of Power League Championship.  

Abigail has been an avid volleyball player since the 8th grade. Coach Eckart has been a part of Abigail's development during her school and club participation days so it's a joy to see the full circle happen when the player returns to coach in the same program.

Abigail played for the Little Rock Flames as a defensive specialist (DS) and an outside/ right side hitter. It was with the Flames that she became a National Champion. During the club season, she played for 501 Volley as an outside/right side hitter as well as a DS. When Abigail is not playing indoors, you can find her playing sand volleyball. She is known for her fierce competitiveness alongside building up and encouraging those around her. Abigail is a leader on and off the court.  Since the beginning of her volleyball career, she has enjoyed the teamwork, competitiveness and challenges of the game and hopes to pass along this love of volleyball.  

Rachel Fisher - 13 White Head Coach (Regional Level)

Coach Rachel started her 5th year of coaching by joining the coaching staff at Episcopal Collegiate School to assist with the varsity and junior varsity volleyball program.  She is returning for the 3rd season to EVA coaching staff. 

Rachel started playing volleyball in the 6th grade at age 11.  Her 9th grade year she was the libero for the varsity team at Mills High School (5A Conference) as well as the setter for the 9th grade.  She would continue to be the setter for the school and help lead each team to win their Conference Championships (2005-2009).  

During her club volleyball career she played as a Defensive Specialist/Libero.  Upon graduating she was offered a half bowling and half volleyball scholarship to Grambling University.  After some changes in the staffing at Grambling she accepted a bowling and academic scholarship to Texas Southern University (she has been bowling since she was 7).  Upon transferring back home to Arkansas she would return to Mills and help train the current teams during the off seasons.

She continues to look forward to returning to the EVA staff, sharing her love for the sport of volleyball and increasing her knowledge of the game.  

She is currently an Assistant Property Manager for a real estate company and has one daughter named Raiyne.

 

Gina Rafferty

Coach Rafferty is entering her fourth season as an EVA coach. She grew up in Houston, TX and played lots of different sports growing up (softball, soccer, volleyball and golf).  She started her coaching career in soccer coaching her own kids over 20 years ago. She has coached  junior high volleyball for about 13 years now.  Three years in Florida (5th and 6th graders), 3 years at PA (7th, 8th and 9th) and 5 years at LRCA (7th and 8th).  She is in her fourth year coaching HS tennis and  has been the assistant HS soccer coach for 7 years.  She has been selflessly giving to the youth by having coached all those years mostly as a volunteer.  If you know Coach Rafferty you know she believes in playing for the love of the game.  This is how she approaches her coaching as well, and this is why coach Rafferty perfectly fits into the EVA culture.   She is currently coaching tennis at LRCA and has enjoyed seeing some of the former volleyball players pick up the sport and being back in their lives. 

Coach Rafferty is the Elementary Technology Specialist at LRCA.  We are excited to have her back on EVA coaching staff for the fourth season. 

Bissette Childress

Bissette Childress joins EVA coaching staff after going through the EVA program as a player. Bissette played under coach Eckart several seasons and knows first hand the coaching expectations for EVA and team culture.
Bissette was a stand out libero for Benton High School where she earned huge honors and achievements, individual and team. She has three Conference Champion titles, two time State Runner-up, and was awarded All Conference  and All State honors while finishing high school career invited to represent East at All Star game. 
Bissette is currently attending the University of Central Arkansas and majoring in Biology Pre-Med. She has spend the fall preparing for coaching through coaching in fall trainings, Let's Volley class, and attending EVA Coaches Clinics. 
Bissette is looking forward to coaching and teaching kids while sharing her love for the game. 

Olivia McCallister

Olivia McCallister is another wonderful EVA player turned coach and we just can't hide the excitement! She is known as Mac around EVA and we think Coach Mac will fit her perfectly!
Olivia played  under coach Eckart and Coach Markie and has been tabbed as one of the greatest teammates from the program.  With her 6' frame she played middle blocker and right side hitter for Benton High School and EVA.  While at Benton HS Olivia and her team were three times 6A Conference Champions and two times 6A State Runner-up., her junior and senior years.
Olivia is currently attending UCA, and is majoring in Interior Design.
Olivia has a huge love and passion for the game is exited to share it with the new young players. She has spend the fall preparing while coaching beginner's camps, fall skill trainings, Let's Volley class and attended EVA Coaches Clinics. Her personality shines each time she is with the young players and we are so happy to welcome her to the EVA coaching staff. 

Jonathan Brown

Jonathan Brown is entering 3rd season with EVA where he served as indoor and beach head coach. Coach Brown is a social studies teacher and a Head JV Volleyball coach and Varsity Assistant at Jacksonville High school. At EVA he was coaching 15U teams and was assisting with Elite level teams in preparation for the nationals. He was also basketball coach were he helped lead the Jacksonville Titans to a 5A state championship!

Jonathan’s coaching philosophy focuses on making YOU better at practice so WE can be our best during the games. He is committed to helping you grow as a player and pushing you to exceed your own expectations. 

Coach Brown has been playing volleyball competitively for several years. He started running the Little Rock Beach Volleyball Club for adults this summer. He safely hosted and ran 5 beach volleyball tournaments this summer. His experience is a huge asset to EVA in running EVA Beach trainings. 

Jonathan graduated with Master's degree in educational leadership towards his path and a big goal of becoming a school principal one day. 

Mikaela Taylor

This is Mikaela Taylors first year coaching at EVA. She started playing competitive volleyball in the 6th grade in Mansfield, Texas at Mary Orr Intermediate. She continued to play in high school as a setter for two Varsity-letter seasons at Mansfield High school. The team was competitive in there 6A district as they were bi-district champs, regional champs, and earned the all district academic award. 
Mikaela played Club in North Texas starting at age 12 through 18s at the national level. Following club and high school, Mikaela entered the Volleyball program at Henderson state University where she was a setter. She played for the 2016, 2017, and 2018 seasons. Mikaela was also a member at FCA as a volleyball sponsor for 3 years and SGA as the school of business representative for 2 years. 
After graduating from Henderson with a degree in bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and management in 3 years, She became a Graduate assistant for the school of business and continued to help out with the volleyballs team practices and games. Mikaela graduated this past May with her MBA and is now working at Dillard's at the corporate office as a SEO analyst. 
In her spare time she enjoys traveling, hiking, going to different coffee shops, and of course playing volleyball! 

Allison Frizzell-Kizer

Coach Frizzell-Kizer has been coaching two season on EVA coaching staff. This season she will serve as college coach resource and helper. 
 Frizzell-Kizer (Coach Frizz) is entering her fifth season at the helm of the Ouachita Baptist University volleyball program. The previous two years she has coached the 2018 GAC Setter of the Year, two All-GAC First Team members, one Second Team All-GAC honoree, one Honorable Mention All-GAC athlete, four GAC Distinguished Scholar Athletes, and two GAC Elite Scholar Athletes.

Frizzell-Kizer came to Ouachita after four years as the head volleyball and women’s soccer coach at nearby Lakeside High School (Hot Springs, Ark.). While at Lakeside, she accumulated a 101-29-2 record, including a 33-5-1 mark in her final season. Lakeside won the conference every year under Frizzell-Kizer’s watch and the team went undefeated in district play in 2016 and 2017. During those undefeated campaigns, Frizzell-Kizer teams led the conference in total kills, assists, digs and hitting percentage. In 2015, Frizzell-Kizer coached at the Arkansas Activities Association All-Star Game and  earned Coach of the Year honors four years in a row for 5A South.

As a player at Ouachita, Frizzell-Kizer was a four-year team captain and an NCAA Woman of the Year nominee. During her freshman campaign, she was named the Gulf South Conference West Freshman of the Year and Ouachita Volleyball’s Defensive Player of the Year.

In her sophomore season, Frizzell-Kizer earned GSC West Second Team honors, GSC West All-Academic Team honors and Ouachita Volleyball Outstanding Player of the Year.

During her junior season, Frizzell-Kizer was named the Great American Conference Female Athlete of the Year, earned GAC First Team honors and was named the Ouachita Volleyball Tona Wright Outstanding Player of the Year.

In her final season at Ouachita, Frizzell-Kizer earned All-GAC Second Team honors, Ouachita Volleyball Tona Wright Outstanding Player of the Year and Ouachita Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year.

Frizzell-Kizer is married to Chris Kizer,  North Little Rock High School football coach. Previously Chris was at Arkadelphia High School as football and track coach. The couple just got a new Welsh Corgi puppy named Roxy.

Coach Frizzell-Kizer graduated with a B.A. in Secondary Education and Mathematics (Ouachita, 2013) and M.S.E. Educational Leadership (Henderson State University)     

Coaching Experience:
Ouachita Baptist Volleyball Head Coach: (2018-Present)
Lake Side High School Volleyball Head Coach: (2014-2017)
Hot Springs Force Volleyball Club Head Coach: (2014-2017)
Lakeside High School Women’s Soccer Coach: (2 years)
Ouachita Baptist Graduate Assistant Coach: (2013)   

Miranda Mayfield

Miranda has been around sports her whole life and is beyond excited to get back in the volleyball gym. She is looking forward to being a part of EVA as she learns more about the game and develops her coaching skills. Miranda has been attending EVA volleyball tournaments for years as a supporter. She is looking forward to helping players with their development this season. Miranda shares a passion for helping others and working with children.

Outside of sports, Miranda works as a Software Test Analyst at FIS. She enjoys spending her free time hanging out at the dog park with her dog, Indie, and with her family. Miranda also enjoys traveling new places whenever she is able to.

Miranda attended Henderson State University where she earned a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management and Marketing.

Brianna McAfee

We welcome Coach Brianna "Bri" to EVA coaching staff as a two time All American at Hot Springs High School. She lead the team to State for the first time ever in 2013. She started playing volleyball at 16 and quickly fell in love with the game and made a huge impact on her high school team. She payed an outside hitter and continued to love and enjoy the game past the high school as she was involved in adult play.

Bri attended Henderson State University where she majored in athletic training and then sports management. During that time at HSU she worked closely with the volleyball team. 
Currently, Bri works at PerfectVision Manufacturing Inc. as Operations Admin. Bri loves the game and is looking forward to coaching at it has been her passion to coach kids to their full potential. She has a four year old daughter whom she hopes to grow up with a deep love the them game as hers.  

Coral Davis -

Coral is currently on volleyball coaching staff at historic Little Rock Central Hight School where her primary assignment is 9th grade Head Coach while assisting with JV and Varsity.  She has coached volleyball at Little Rock Central for 6 years and helped to introduce the use of a 9th grade volleyball team 5 years ago. She has also been volunteering for many years, coaching 5th through 12th graders in her hometown’s basketball league, where she developed her love of sports. Coral grew up playing many sports: basketball, volleyball, and track and field. She was a member of her high school’s basketball team, helping them reach the first round of the state tournament for the first time in many years. She is a mathematics teacher at Central HS. 

After high school she attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock as a Donaghey Scholar to receive her Bachelors in Math in 2016 and in 2019 she received her masters from Arkansas State University in Educational Theory. Coral is also currently working on a second graduate degree in math at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Valerie Kauffman

Valerie has been around volleyball for as long as she can remember. After attending every volleyball practice and game of her older sister, she was finally able to compete in the 5th grade. From ages 13-17, Valerie played for Code Blue and Little Rock Juniors, where she learned and refined her volleyball skills. In high school, Valerie played for Mount St. Mary Academy for four years, and was a varsity starter for three. During this time, she received All-Conference and All-State honors, as well as being nominated as the team captain.  Val has been training as high school player under coach Eckart so now they are back to full circle of player-coach to coach-coach relationship. 

In college, Valerie ultimately decided to focus on her studies, earning a BA in both Political Science and Writing & Rhetoric from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. She played club volleyball at her school for all four years, becoming the team’s president. Currently, Valerie is applying to law schools across the region and is excited to become an attorney. 

For several years, Valerie played volleyball, basketball, golf, and track and field. During her time as an athlete, she was considered to be a fierce competitor whose positivity and drive were contagious to those around her. Valerie is incredibly excited to begin her first year of club volleyball coaching, and knows that she will pour that same energy into the girls she coaches and mentors. While this is her first year coaching a club volleyball team, she has over five years of experience coaching girls’ basketball and golf. She is excited to share her knowledge and love of volleyball, and knows what it takes to cultivate a hardworking and positive team culture.

Hannah and Taylor Owens

Hannah is a Sherwood, Arkansas, native with five years of high school volleyball experience, three years of club volleyball play, and 12 years of recreational competition. At 5'11, positions played have included both middle and right side hitter. Hannah graduated with a bachelor's degree in communication from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, in 2011 and a Master of Business Administration degree in management and business ethics in 2016 also from Harding.

She currently serves as the director of digital media for Harding University. She is married to Taylor Owens, with whom she frequently plays volleyball, and lives in Sherwood.  

Hannah served as floater coach during the season 2018/19 and helped several teams in their practice development but spent most of her coaching time with EVA 12 Regional Team which was ranked 12th overall in Delta Region our of 73 teams. Taylor joined mid season as a volunteer coach and rediscovered the joy for coaching alongside his wife. 

Taylor first started playing recreational volleyball in college at Harding University. After competing on men’s and co-ed intramural teams at Harding, he continued to pursue volleyball in local indoor, grass and sand tournaments and leagues around central Arkansas. 

Taylor graduated from Harding University with a Bachelor's degree in accounting. He has been working in the accounting department at Dillard's since 2017. 

We are thrilled to have Hannah and Taylor return as a c0-head coaches to the EVA staff and lead our regional 12U team. 

Allie Anderson - Master Coach

Allie joins the indoor EVA coaching staff after spending spring and summer of 2019 helping EVA 15 National team prepare for the Junior National Championships in Indianapolis. Following that Allie was a part of  2020 EVA Beach Academy. Season 2020/21 Allie was head coach for 17 Regional Plus team and then last season spent as a master coach helping various EVA teams and working as skill development coach. 

Allie played and started at Bryant all three years of varsity and all four years at AR Tech. While at ATU, Allie was two times All-GAC honorable mention, All-GAC second team, 2018 GAC regular season and conference champs. She graduated in May of 2020 with BS Business Administration Management & Marketing. She has four years of club coaching in team setting along with private coaching experience. 
 

Leigh Ann Arey - Floater Coach

Coach Leigh Ann was a perfect addition to our coaching staff because along with her volleyball knowledge her background as therapist/coach in occupational therapy she was an excellent in balancing high expectation along with encouragement to her 14 Regional Plus team. Coach Leigh Ann got engaged and is planning a wedding for May 2021 so the extent of her involvement changed from being a head coach to a team to being a Master coach who will help with onboarding new coaches for 2020/21 season. We are grateful for her continuous involvement while balancing her private life and fun year of planning her wedding day. 

Leigh Ann was born and raised in central Arkansas where she played varsity volleyball for North Little Rock High School as well as club volleyball.  She went on to sign a volleyball scholarship for the University of Central Arkansas but after a change in coaching staff and an awarded academic scholarship, Leigh Ann decided to focus on academics in pursuit of her passion for helping others through a graduate degree in occupational therapy.  Her extensive knowledge in biomechanics and motor development as well as her experience and knowledge of volleyball fundamentals lend to a unique perspective and approach to coaching.  Over the years, Leigh Ann has nurtured her passion for the game through adult volleyball programs including grass, sand, and indoor environments as well as two years of club coaching experience for LRJ ages 14 and 15s.  Leigh Ann is a pediatric occupational therapist at Hippos and Fish Specialized Pediatric Therapy Services and has a passion for helping children, teenagers and young adults reach their fullest potential in all areas of life.  Through her years of competitive volleyball, Coach Tanja Eckart was her most influential coach due to her positive and encouraging approach to coaching while setting high standards for work ethic as well as a genuine investment in the development of each individual player.  Leigh Ann is a firm believer in the “we vs. me” culture and finds great value in team sports and the positive impact it has on character development into adulthood.
Leigh Ann is married to Jake Arey and the couple is expecting twin girls in February '22.

Kristen Ryan

Coach Kristen is returning coach to EVA staff for the third season but this time as a floater coach. She has been working with young 12's teams and has been pouring her joy into young athletes in their vb start.  With some life changes in work (promotion) and professional life (Coach Kristen is getting married!) this year she will serve in a role of a floater/helper coach as her time allows her to help us. We are thrilled about that because we love coach Kristen's passion in her work with young athletes paired with her love and knowledge of the game.  
Last year Coach Kristen served as a Leading Beach program coach for Benton Parks & Recs first season of offering beach volleyball in the area. She has also served as the leading indoor coach for volleyball clinics preceding the youth league at River Center in Benton. 

Kristen has seven years of school volleyball experience. During her high school career (2009-2012), she played several seasons of club ball (at Benton Club), along with coaching and mentoring younger students including coaching at Future Stars alongside Tanja Eckart.

Kristen was able to graduate from Benton High School with three All-State awards, three All-Conference Awards and a State Championship Ring in 2010. 

She has spent the last seven years traveling and playing beach volleyball in all surrounding states. She has never been specialized to one position, which made her versatile player and gave her the opportunity to play all positions based on team's needs.  This also gave her greater knowledge for the game as a whole. 

Kristen attended UCA 2012-2014 majoring in Fashion Merchandise but found different career calling and graduated from Eastern College for Dental Assisting this year. She is currently a Dental Assistant/front office at Dunn Family Dental in Maumelle, AR.  She currently lives in Maumelle, AR along with her black Labrador, Miller.

Shelby Byrne - Master Coach

Coach Shelby after coaching three seasons will spend the 2022/23 season on the maternity leave as she and her husband Travis are expecting a baby girl in December of this year. She will serve as EVA resource from the mentoring side as we would be thrilled to continue to utilize her knowledge of sports counseling.

In previous season besides indoor coaching, Shelby was also part of 2020 EVA Beach Academy as the lead coach in July session. She gained knowledge of the beach game as she competed on UCA beach program for a season upon graduating from ASU.

Shelby's educational background in Psychology and Mental Health Counseling was a huge addition to our program as she held Mini Seminars for EVA players with different topics in our effort to build complete players. Shelby held few mini seminars on topics of grit, resilience, overcoming disappointment and adversity before the season got cut short due to COVID-19.

Shelby is currently a Counselor at UCA and is doing mental health and wellness advocacy for UCA athletes. 

Shelby played for Arkansas State University and graduated with a degree in Psychology. After her undergraduate degree she went to the University of Central Arkansas to pursue her masters in Mental Health Counseling and finish out her NCAA eligibility in a season of Beach Volleyball. She graduates in December and hopes to become a licensed therapist quickly upon graduation. Shelby has a particular interest in working with athletes and studying sports and performance psychology.

During her time at Arkansas State, Shelby primarily played outside and right side. She honors from the Dean’s List and the SBC Academic Honor Roll several years. She ended her senior season with 99 kills for a 1.98 per set average on a .230 hitting percentage, recorded 26 total blocks with three block solos, and picked up 15 digs along with two assists.

In high school, Shelby was a four year starter at Free State High School in Lawrence, Kansas and was voted team captain for senior season. She was named to All-Area team for all four seasons of high school career, earned All-State honors during senior season, set the school record for kills in a season with 325, was a three-time medalist in USA Volleyball national qualifiers, was selected to the Kansas Volleyball Association All-Academic Team twice, and was a member of the National Honor Society.

Additional coaches

EVA is dedicated to coach preparation and mentoring so within our organization we offer several coaching positions: Head coaches, Assistant Coaches, Floater Coaches/Helper coaches.

Head and assistant coaches are assigned to a specific team while Floater/Helper coaches attend several teams' practices in order to learn from and be exposed to different coaches in our organization.  This benefits the coach in training as well as the team that they are helping as having more coaches in practice is always better for running smoother practices and providing valuable feedback.  

If you are interested in becoming a part of EVA coaching staff please read "How we coach at EVA" to know the expectation and contact club director, Tanja Eckart at 501-940-0608 or eckartvolleyball@gmail.com  

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