BELOIT — After reluctantly giving up her role as a West Branch varsity volleyball coach to become a school administrator, Penny DeShields found herself ready to return to the sidelines.
DeShields led the Warriors to a 20-win season and a berth in the Division II District Semifinals last fall after accepting an administrative position as the high school’s assistant principal.
School policy prohibits people in administrative positions from taking coaching positions, forcing DeShields to give up the volleyball job.
However, just weeks after former West Branch assistant Alyssa Streb accepted the head coaching job, she surprised the Warriors by accepting a similar coaching and teaching position in Lowellville.
After:High School Volleyball | Alyssa Streb takes control of the West Branch program
“I didn’t want to leave [the head coaching job]but I had to drop out because I became an assistant manager,” DeShields said.
With time running out before the start of preseason training on August 1, West Branch opened the bidding process. DeShields, one of the candidates, was eventually rehired as head coach. For the second consecutive school year, she will try to reconcile administrative work and coaching.
“Being an assistant principal is different from teaching, but having spent 20 years in the classroom has given me the tools to be an instructional leader,” DeShields said. “I also taught four foundation courses in college and that helped me be even better prepared to be an administrator.”
DeShields’ return brings stability to a program that ended 19-5 in 2018, 17-7 in 2019 and 2020 and 20-5 overall and 9-3 in Eastern Buckeye Conference play in 2021 Two of the losses were to Eastern Buckeye Conference rival and conference champion Marlington (21-4), while the other three losses were inflicted by Division II State semifinalist Lake Catholic (22-6). ), Girard (24-2) and improving conference rival Alliance (11-12).
There will also be player continuity, led by senior setter Hannah Rush, senior libero/outside hitter Adele Peters, senior outside hitter Claire Brunner, junior middle hitters Mikayln Fitts and Olivia Showalter and sophomore libero Ragan Greeneisen .
“We have several returning starters and several more [letter winners] ready to contribute, and I’m glad to have the chance to work with them again,” said DeShields.
Although she’s happy to move into administration, DeShields still possesses an insatiable appetite for coaching, something she’s been doing successfully for more than two decades. Before coming to West Branch, she also served as head coach at former Northeastern Buckeye Conference rival Louisville for eight years (1998-2005), compiling an impressive 140-56 record.
“I love coaching,” she added. “It’s not just about teaching the girls team skills, it’s also about watching them grow as players and be part of something bigger than themselves.”