Coach of the week

Week 3 – Shannon Taylor, Clare High School

Shannon understands that her role as a coach is a vehicle to make a positive influence on people of all ages, not just her volleyball players. She founded the “Be the Change” movement to address issues in her school and community such as mental health, kindness and anything that her team feels the need to improve or influence in a positive way. Many schools dedicate a game night to recognize a cause or a person, but Shannon and the Clare Volleyball team take it a step further and continue the Be the Change all year round by organizing special events throughout the school year for members of their community. Shannon has helped her players grow above and beyond themselves by addressing hard topics like mental health and positive self-image which only prepares them to be stronger in the next stage of their lives. The impact that Shannon and “Be the Change” has had on her players has been tremendous. One player wrote “I have taken away many valuable lessons from Coach Shannon and Be the Change. First is the importance of the words we choose to say to others. The second is how big the little things truly are. How some small things we do throughout the day to help others can positively impact their life. I will take the things I’ve learned from Coach Shannon as a volleyball player, a teammate and being part of Be the Change and carry them throughout the rest of my life.” Thank you Shannon for being a beacon of positivity and change in our volleyball and school community. Your players are blessed to be part of your program and the Clare community is definitely better because of you.

Week 2 – Jim Pender, Mt. Morris HS

Jim Pender is an outstanding volleyball coach who cares deeply about the sport of volleyball. Most coaches have no idea the numerous obstacles Jim faces in order to build a competitive program. Obstacles like financial resources, job commitments, one-parent families, and transportation issues just to name a few. Those fortunate enough to know Jim well have an abundance of respect for the love he has for his student-athletes and the time he has given them in order to provide them opportunities for success and at the next level. Jim always produces competitive teams and that is because of his strong work ethic. He coaches in a district where over 60% of the students participate in the free and reduced lunch program. Jim’s athletes are not afforded the same out-of-season opportunities that exist in some of the more affluent districts. Yet he is always able to develop strong fundamental teams because of his commitment to his student-athletes. Jim has done an extraordinary job of providing growth opportunities for players around the state. He has and continues to host hundreds of tournaments for youth volleyball throughout the High School and club seasons. Thank you Jim for your excellence in coaching and your commitment to your student athletes.

Week 1 – Jenny Nate, Niles HS

Jenny is always high energy and expects the same of her players. The work she puts into her program not just during, but out of season shows in the success the program has had under her guidance over the past ten years. With each new season Jenny continues to set higher and higher expectations of herself and her players. She is a student of the game and is always challenging herself to grow as a coach and leader. Her energy is contagious and her players respect her and love playing for her. As a coaching colleague I love playing against Jenny’s teams. You have to prepare for a battle, take no lead big or small for granted because they’re coming for you! Jenny is leaving the ranks for high school volleyball and has taken the position as Head Coach at SMC (Southwest Michigan College). She will be missed within the MIVCA/MHSAA family but we wish you the best with your new challenges that lie ahead. Congratulations Jenny Nate!