Ball in the family: West Forsyth senior’s athletic acumen in his blood

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 8, 2023

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By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier

CLEMMONS — Graduation for West Forsyth is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday at Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem.

One of those graduating seniors is Hayden Lichty, who played boys indoor volleyball this past season in its first season as a club sport for the Titans, as well as beach volleyball. Of course, the Lichty name has become synonymous with volleyball at West Forsyth. His elder sister, Madie, played at West Forsyth and is now playing beach volleyball at Coastal Carolina. Lichty’s mother, Tammi, is the JV volleyball coach and assistant varsity coach.

Lichty was so good at beach volleyball that he and his partner, sophomore Grant Lamoureaux, won the Beach Volleyball state championship last month at Pinetop Sport Club in Greensboro. Lichty and Lamoureux defeated John Cordray and Leo Trainan from Reagan in the state championship, and they also defeated them in the conference championship.

Last year as a junior, Lichty finished runner-up with Lamoureux’s brother, Zach, who is now playing at Liberty University.

“It was a relief off my shoulders because getting second both years prior was a tough feeling,” Lichty said. “So, actually, being able to push through and win it was a relief.”

Since boys beach and indoor volleyball is in its infancy at West Forsyth, Forsyth County, and across the state, winning the state championship was the last feather Lichty, who has signed to play indoor volleyball at Reinhardt University, an NAIA school in Waleska, Ga., needed in his cap to celebrate his storied career at West Forsyth.

“I already won conference,” Lichty said. “I have a winning record over most of the teams we played, schools we played. So, winning the state title is the last thing I really needed.”

In addition to overseeing the boys indoor volleyball program, Lauren Gillon is the girls indoor volleyball coach and boys and girls beach volleyball coach at West Forsyth. She had a chance to witness Lichty’s state championship up close.

“They had competed so hard,” Gillon said. “We’ve had others in the past couple of years win the state championship. The first two years (that) we had beach volleyball, we won. And boys volleyball, and beach volleyball in general, since then, has grown so much. So, Hayden knew his talent level, obviously, and his partner, Zach, at the time, was very talented. And they kind of had everything that you need to win it. And they just really came up short.”

Flash-forward to this year when the outcome was different, but with a different Lamoureux brother.

“So, I think (Lichty) has been there for the past couple of years to the state playoffs and hadn’t won yet, so he was really determined to make it happen his senior year, which he did a great job.”

To capture the state championship, Lichty and Grant Lamoureux had to win six matches in one day.

“It can be (grueling), but it wasn’t like hot or anything,” Lichty said. “The first three matches were pool-play matches, and our pool finished pretty fast, so we had a good like 30-45-minute break in between.”

Meanwhile, Lichty played boys indoor volleyball this past spring simultaneously in West Forsyth’s first year with a boys indoor club team as a libero for Coach Patrick Shugart. But it wasn’t his first time playing indoor volleyball. He had been playing for a number of years with Twin City Volleyball Club.

“It was actually pretty good,” Lichty said. “Practices were tough because most of the guys played beach, as well. So, it didn’t interfere with that season. But there was some new guys who joined along. They learned pretty fast. It was fun. It wasn’t super-strict like some of the women’s matches, but it was pretty close.”

What makes it even harder is playing indoors on wood and playing beach on sand.

“It’s really tough when it’s going from indoor to beach because your beach legs aren’t in yet,” Hayden said. “For me personally, I play so much volleyball I’m used to (the difference), and I can, like, adapt pretty fast.”

Although boys indoor volleyball is still new at West Forsyth, it has the opportunity to flourish.

“I think it’ll be pretty big,” Gillon said. “When you start something new at a school, you have to have some of the personalities that are already their thing, or they’re independent and paving their own path. So, we had a handful of guys that went out on a limb and tried it, or maybe once in middle school and then wanted to do it.

“I think you have other people who would wait back and see like, is it really going to happen? Or what it’s going to look like? They need that visual. Then, as the season progressed, there were more and more students that would come up to me or come up to the other guys that were playing. They were, ‘I want to do that next year. It looks like so much fun.’ So, I really think it’s almost going to double in number in terms of the amount of people we have come out for a tryout next year.”

Although modest in his assessment of his imprint on the start of boys indoor volleyball for the Titans, Hayden Lichty knows the popularity could explode.

“For the guys, at least for indoors, it could be a big team, and good team because there’s some players still on the team,” Lichty said. “And for me, it’s kind of like been there. Some of the guys from West, like a few years ago, have done really good.”

Much of Hayden Lichty’s love of volleyball comes from his family. In addition to his mother and elder sister being a big part of the volleyball program, his younger sister, Hadley, is an eighth grader at Clemmons Middle School and will be playing volleyball at West Forsyth in the fall. His twin brother Nolan and his father, Clayton, don’t play.

“The first time I actually played was around 12 years old,” Lichty said. “That’s kind of like where I first started. And I started out with beach volleyball because my sister (Madie, who graduated from West Forsyth in 2019) would always have tournaments on the weekends. I would always go out and have to watch her.”

With the family always being around Titans’ volleyball, Gillon has known Lichty for years.

“I guess it’s all I’ve really known of him was to be really good at volleyball and to love volleyball,” Gillon said. “And that’s where I think a lot of our conversations are just based around volleyball, honestly, because he would come to Madie’s games, and then he was the manager for the indoor team, and he played at Twin City, or still plays at Twin City Academy. And I was coaching a girls team there, and I knew a lot of the guys on his club team.

“Really he’s just kind of been like family since I can ever remember.”

Not only does Gillon coach Lichty, she teaches him in anatomy and physiology.

“He has the drive that it takes,” Gillon said. “He just really loves volleyball. He doesn’t seem to be able to get enough of it. I think that he’ll succeed. And even just this past year, as the manager of the girls indoor team he was so dependable.

“He would come in as a practice player against the girls. He would help his mom hit down balls at the JV team if he needed to help there. And he’s just really matured helping out, he’s matured as a player. I had him as a student. He’s matured as a student.”

Although Lichty is graduating this weekend, the family’s legacy in volleyball isn’t over for the Titans. According to him, Hadley, who is already 5-foot-10, has a chance to be best of all of them.

“I think she has the most potential over my sister (Madie) and me,” Lichty said. “She’s been around the game longer since me, and her have been playing…She’s tall for her age.”

Watching her siblings play has made Hadley get better.

“She’s watching like high-level volleyball you learn stuff from your volleyball IQ,” Hayden said. “It goes up from just like watching high-level (volleyball). So, I think for her always being at tournaments and stuff, it helped her out a lot.”

Lichty is heading to college in a few months to start playing volleyball, but he’s not going to be too far away. He chose Reinhardt over Carolina University, which is in Winston-Salem.

“I went on a visit and met most of the guys, and talked with the coaches,” Lichty said. “The campus was a nice, smaller school. The guys are competitive, and the coaches are good coaches, as well.”

The green and gold of West Forsyth won’t be lost on him or his coaches.

“I think his teammates will miss him, too,” Gillon said. “Hayden’s a pretty funny guy. He’s really light-hearted. I think his leadership, his calmness, he’s funny and light-hearted. He brings some calmness to the game and to the people that are around him because you can trust him. He’s going to be there.”

There’s only one thing Lichty is dreading about graduating on Saturday.

“I’m not looking forward to sitting there for a few hours, but … I can’t wait to see what college is like and to be a part of a college team,” Lichty said.