Fraga leads Lionettes to third round, named coach of the year

LA FERIA – Rebea Fraga has been coaching La Feria volleyball for 32 years, but the 2020 season was an extra special one for a number of reasons.

Fraga called the season “unusual” because of the delayed start and lack of preseason games, tournaments and the program only carrying a varsity team to keep numbers down due to COVID-19. Even with the Lionettes working through all the obstacles the pandemic brought, Fraga led the team on a historic run.

La Feria ended the year 11-3 and went 8-2 in District 32-4A to clinch a co-district championship with Hidalgo. The Lionettes defeated Hidalgo in a seeding game to claim the district’s top playoff seed, and a mere six weeks after the team first hit the court for practice, Fraga led La Feria to the third round of the postseason for just the second time in school history.

The Lionettes won bi-district and area games over Alice and Crystal City, respectively, in their whirlwind season. Fraga’s efforts in leading the Lionettes to that success earned her the Valley Morning Star’s All-STAR coach of the year award and 32-4A co-coach of the year honors.

“It feels really awesome,” Fraga said. “I don’t know if the girls know how rare that is, or maybe they do, but as a coach, in all the years I’ve been doing this, I know to get to that third round is really a feat. They were disappointed to lose, but I wanted them to appreciate all they accomplished, especially in this year, and to realize just how special it was.”

Fraga applauded her team for the way it adapted to safety protocols, like practicing and playing in masks and staying distanced whenever possible. She said “worrying about keeping the girls healthy and making sure we would be able to finish the season” was a top priority, and she was proud of the work put in by all in her program that led to La Feria’s numerous accomplishments.

The 2020 season also was special for Fraga because it capped four years of coaching her daughter, Reanne. It was challenging at times for the pair to balance being mother and daughter and player and coach, but getting to share success like they did in the 2020 season made the experience worthwhile.

“I’d catch myself in the beginning sometimes, I was in coach mode then she’d pull at those mom heartstrings,” Rebea Fraga said. “One time, after one of our losses here in La Feria, we got home and I still wasn’t over it, and she was upset, too, and she was, like, ‘I don’t need my coach. I’m at home, I need my mom.’ That was like, whew.

“It’s been awesome to spend this time with her,” she continued. “It’s been special, but it’s been tough, too, because there’d be times I’d have to get on her and remind her, ‘Right now I’m coach, I’m not mom.’ It was really a rewarding experience. Once in a lifetime.”