Joy Northweather spikes another career goal

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Blair Oaks Volleyball Coach Joy Northweather speaks with her team during practice. (Stephen Brooks/News Tribune photo)

Joy Northweather was looking for something to pass the time when she walked into a gym years ago to try out for a club volleyball team.

She got a little more than she bargained for.

As a basketball standout in high school and college, Northweather found another calling in volleyball.

The sport allowed her to meet her future husband, Sean, who played club volleyball with her. It also led her to her dream job of being the head coach of a varsity program.

“This sport has been good to me,” said Northweather, who is in her first year as the head volleyball coach at Blair Oaks. “I’ve been lucky enough to play basketball in high school and in college.

“To find this later in life and have the passion and enjoyment of watching it and coaching it, I would like everyone to have that.”

Northweather, who played volleyball in high school, spent 12 years as the assistant coach at Jefferson City and the last two years as an assistant at Blair Oaks before taking the head-coaching job.

It’s been an eye-opening experience as Blair Oaks hits the midway point of the season.

“There’s so much involved,” Northweather said. “For years, I just showed up and coached.

“That has to be one of the challenging things, switching over from an assistant coach to a head coach. It’s more of a challenge than I anticipated.”

From making sure sign-out sheets are completed after games, to dealing with more than 30 girls on three different teams, it can take its toll. But the veteran coach is doing something she’s always wanted to try.

“I’m living one of my dreams,” Northweather said. “This is one of the goals I’ve had.

“I’ve learned things that I can do better next year. I’ve been making and taking notes to make things easier.”

Northweather was part of great teams at Jefferson City, which put together a string of state playoff appearances throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. She was a part of the Lady Jays team in 2000 that finished fourth at state.

“I’ve coached great teams over the years, and I’ve been lucky in the athletes that I’ve had and the opportunity that I’ve had to coach them,” Northweather said. “It continues here at Blair Oaks.

“I’ve got a great group of girls. They come here every day to work. I consider myself lucky.”

Northweather wants to concentrate on building up the volleyball program at Blair Oaks Middle School and hopes to bring an atmosphere of excitement into the game at Blair Oaks.

“I tell the girls, ‘We need to create an atmosphere that people enjoy,’” Northweather said. “If we play a game where everybody is yawning and there’s no excitement, people don’t want to be a part of that.

“People want to be a part of excitement. That draws more people out and that’s what I’m hoping we start developing as a team.”

To get to that level, Northweather knows it’s going to take the type of passion she played with when she was reintroduced to the sport.

“I just want them to get after it,” Northweather said. “I want them to get past the point of, ‘I might embarrass myself,’ and just go all out.

“That’s the team you hope all your players develop into.”

And she wants her players to take the game with them no matter where they end up.

“I want them to take the love of the sport, whatever level they’re at,” Northweather said.

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