Glencliff coach has a winning double dose of volleyball generations

Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 6:28pm
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From left, Darlene Morrow, Briana Morrow, Audrehuna Mingo and Shemeka Buford. / Matthew Williams for The City Paper

With Cupcake and Bre in the lineup, Glencliff High coach Glenn Falls is thankful for a generational double dose of volleyball.

Falls, who has won 23 district championships in his 30 years of coaching volleyball with the Colts, has the unusual distinction of coaching two girls this season whose mothers also were standouts for his Glencliff teams in the mid- to late-1980s.

This foursome has helped account for a good deal of his 1,140 coaching victories.

Like their mothers, Audrehona (Cupcake) Mingo and Briana (Bre) Morrow are key players for Glencliff, which is challenging Antioch for this year’s district crown.

With this family-like backdrop, it’s not surprising that the 5-11½ Mingo and the 5-10½ Morrow are very close.

“Yes, we’re very close, we’re like sisters,’’ said Mingo, a senior co-captain. “We’ve been great friends since the eighth grade. We’re close on and off the court.’’

“My first impression of (Mingo) was, wow, she’s very tall,’’ said Morrow, a junior. “She’s always been pretty tall, and that helps her reach when she’s on the court.’’

That reach stretches across a generation.

Mingo’s mother is the former Shemeka Buford, who was an all-Nashville volleyball and basketball player for Glencliff before graduating in ‘91. Falls calls her possibly the best blocker he’s ever coached. She went on to play at Vol State.

Mingo’s younger sister Shakirah is a standout middle hitter for JFK’s middle school team.

Morrow’s mother is the former Darlene Crawley, also an All-Nashville player who led the Colts to the 1989 state semifinals and a 53-2 record (which was a state record for wins at the time). She was a three-sport star (volleyball, basketball, softball) and went on to play volleyball and basketball at Tennessee State University.

Crawley competed on arguably Glencliff’s greatest girls basketball team (which Falls also coached) in school history in 1990 when the 30-4 Colts reached the AAA state finals.

On consecutive nights, she guarded the best players from White County (Ginger Jared), Oak Ridge (Nikki Caldwell) and Shelbyville (Tiffany Woosley), holding each under her average. She made the all-state team.

Asked how he felt about coaching two girls whose mothers played for him, Falls said, “I’m proud not only that I’ve been able to coach that long and to be fortunate to get to coach girls like these two.

“And that I’ve been able to instill some values in their mothers who, in turn, have instilled these same values in their daughters,’’ said Falls, now a spry 70.

Both mothers regularly attend Glencliff matches. Shemeka is very vocal, while Darlene is more reserved.

“You can hear her up in the stands, sometimes above everyone else, sometimes to the point of distraction,’’ Falls said of Shemeka. “One time, I told her to keep stats for us, hoping that would help the situation. After the match, she brought the sheet back, and I said, ‘You didn’t write down but two things.’ So that didn’t work.”

Falls added that once, while teaching a defensive drill once in practice, Shemeka turned around and accidentally ran right into Fall’s leg, causing a severe bruise. “I was on crutches for 2-3 weeks,’’ he said. “She was very intense.’’

Mingo actually got to see her mother play with such intensity when she was in college in Maryland.

“I just remember how active she was and how I wanted to play some day.’’

For Morrow, who is also a standout basketball player, she said, “I’ve seen some old clips of some of her [mother’s] games. She would always stress that I need to work on my defense.’’

As for her nickname Cupcake, Mingo said, “Lots of times, the announcer can’t pronounce my first name, and Cupcake was the name I had around home. So we just told him to call me Cupcake. I’m fine with it.’’

Both girls are honors students too, with designs on college.

Mingo would like to go to the University of Alabama, Alabama A&M, or, maybe closer to home at Middle Tennessee State University, to play volleyball. Morrow, whose decision is a year out, is considering Memphis or Tennessee State University, where her mother attended.

But until that time, the pair is helping to make Glencliff the top challenger for defending district champ Antioch when the tournaments open next month.

“It’s because of players like these two that I keep coaching,’’ Falls said.

Or should he have said ‘four?’