Lindsay names Neighbors as head vball coach

Makala Neighbors got a sneak peak of what her next job was going to be at last year’s Class 2A state volleyball tournament.

Neighbors watched the Lindsay Lady Knights narrowly fall in the state championship and it was there Neighbors got a dose of the Lindsay culture.

Fast forward several months and Neighbors was recently named the head coach of the Lady Knights, taking over for Bridget Anderle, who coached the Lady Knights for the past 12 years.

Neighbors said she was instantly drawn to Lindsay.

“They’ve always just been very successful here and they’ve always had accolades here,” Neighbors said. “The community is always around. There’s always that family-like closeness, so that’s what’s interesting to me. Their fans were awesome and the girls were very focused. They just kept fighting and fighting.”

With the Lady Knights coming within a few points of a state championship, Neighbors said she has high expectations for next season.

“I have high demands and I’m already pushing,” Neighbors said. “I want to take it one game at a time, but I want to be at state again. That’s my overall goal.”

Neighbors said her father was a long-time high school football coach, so coaching runs in her blood.

“Just being around all the sports, the connections you make with the kids and the families and all that plus just the competitive part of all of it, it’s been a part of me,” Neighbors said.

Neighbors was previously an assistant coach at Ponder before arriving at Lindsay, where she replaced Anderle.

Under Ponder head coach Stormi Snider, Neighbors said she learned several crucial lessons.

“She kind of did her program where she adapted all her coaching with what we needed to fix,” Neighbors said. “So that was a big thing to me, just because a lot of coaches kind of get stuck in the same routine sometimes. And she didn’t. I also just appreciated the connection that she had with the girls there. She had a very strong bond and I think that helps a lot.”

After her initial interview with Lindsay athletic director and head football coach Jeff Smiley, Neighbors said she had a good feeling she might get the job.

“I didn’t know if I was gonna get it or not just because I’m younger,” said Neighbors, who is 23 years old. “I feel like some people kind of think that it’s a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. I was super excited about my interview because Lindsay has been a powerhouse.”

Patrick Hayslip can be reached at sports@gainesvilleregister.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip