By Madi Barker ‘19
The Immaculate Heart Pandas are now in full swing in volleyball season – and returning for her second outing as coach is Jade Szczepanski-Beavers.
This year Coach Jade will be the head coach for all three teams, Frosh/Soph, Junior Varsity, and Varsity. In college, she played at a Division 1 and Division 2 school for one year each until she dislocated her unstable patella. She started coaching immediately after her injury and became the head coach at a small high school. She then went to Portland, Oregon, where she coached a Division 6A school. Once the Immaculate Heart volleyball season ends, she will coach again for San Gabriel Elite Volleyball.
The Bamboo caught up with her recently to discuss her insights regarding this new volleyball season.
What is different from last year?
Coach Jade: Last year was like an adjustment period for me as a new coach. Everyone’s more aligned with the new program and its ideals, and I think people are more ready to let the past go. I think the culture of athletics is changing, so I think people are actually trying to be competitive instead of playing just to play or because their parents are forcing them to.
What are you looking forward to most this season?
Coach Jade: I am excited to see what it looks like when other schools can see that we can compete. It’s not necessarily that the skill level has changed because we have always had the skill, but rather it’s the competitive spirit. It’s a different atmosphere at practice. I think it’s fun to see other teams take us seriously since we demand that they take us seriously. I am looking forward to winning games, especially at the Varsity level.
How do you think the program will be different with just you coaching this year?
Coach Jade: My time is divided so there’s not as much individual instruction. At the same time, it’s teaching all the teams how to be more self-sufficient and how to be more responsible for themselves. It also teaches them how to be more motivated by being better since the coach is watching or the coach is on them all the time.
Do you enjoy coaching at Immaculate Heart?
Coach Jade: Yeah I think the student population is super special. Everyone is super smart so it’s cool knowing I have a lot of intelligent kids. There are a lot of talented kids who know how to balance academics and athletics. The parent community is really nice and very supportive.