Familiar face stabilizes Owen volleyball

Jenny Johnson returns to the sidelines for Warlassies volleyball

Fred McCormick

In 2011, Jenny Johnson unwittingly created a coaching carousel when she stepped down as volleyball coach at Owen High School after 10 years of calling the shots.

Since then, five coaches have come and gone from the Warlassies program. Now Johnson is back, perhaps to restore stability to a team that hasn't experienced much in five years.Despite last year's 1-16 record, Johnson said she feels "like I'm right back at home."

Actually, she never left Owen - she merely put her volleyball career on hold in 2011 to focus on being the school's softball coach. She coached the softball team to a third-round playoff appearance last year - not the first time she'd achieved that feat as a coach.

During her volleyball years, her teams made it to the playoffs in "my last three or four seasons," she said, including the third round one year. 

Johnson left the volleyball team because she thought her coaching two sports would be too hard on her family,including her young daughter. But when the volleyball team needed a coach this season, which begins Aug. 24 at Reynolds, Johnson was ready. 

"The timing was good for me," she said, noting that her daughter is starting middle school. "I was excited to get back to volleyball."

Johnson is taking over a young team that has only three seniors and two juniors. The younger players on the team are "talented and athletic," in her estimation.

Johnson still coaches the softball team, whose roster contains several of her volleyball players. Knowing her girls from their softball days has smoothed her transition to volleyball, she said. 

"I think that's helped them kind of already understand my expectations coming in," the coach said.

Despite having only three seniors and two juniors, Jenny Johnson is taking over a "talented and athletic" Warlassies team, she said.

Despite last season's record, the volleyball team has a lot of athleticism, Johnson said.

"They know a lot of the fundamentals, but we have to fine-tune a lot of our skills and the communication," she said. "If we can improve on a lot of the little things, I think we can be pretty competitive."

In the few weeks since she was appointed volleyball coach, Johnson has increased the level of intensity during practices. She's pleased with what she's seen so far.

"They've worked hard and done everything I've asked them to do so far," she said. "Most of them have been around me (so they) know I have high expectations for my players."

Jenny Johnson's familiarity with her team comes from having coached many of the players on Owen's volleyball roster.

The Warlassies are capable of surprising other teams in the Western Highlands Conference this season, their coach believes. Johnson sees a bright future for the team beyond this season.

"I believe if we can develop some of their skills, they'll win games and get their confidence up," she said. "And from there we can build for the future."