The new season will bring about new things for the Killeen Lady Kangaroos this volleyball season as Joanne Knowles takes over the program.
Knowles was Killeen’s freshmen coach for the past two seasons and takes over the program from Shelly Harris, who left Killeen to become Harker Heights’ new coach.
Knowles is a native of the Chicagoland metropolitan area and attended Northern Illinois University.
She takes over a varsity team that finished 2013 with a 12-15 record, including a 5-9 District 8-5A mark, and finished one spot out of the playoffs.
Knowles spoke with the Herald’s Albert Alvarado about the upcoming season.
How excited are you for this first head coaching opportunity?
I’m beyond thrilled. I know that my first year might not be easy, but I’m ready to put in the work.
I can’t wait to get started.
How important is the familiarity some of the girls already have with you in the transition from one head coach to another?
There’s a level of respect that exists between us already. I think that they’re excited to get started, I know that I’m excited. We’ve got a couple of senior leaders that are ready to step up and put in the work, Tiana Ware and Sabrina Garcia. They’ve made a presence already at open gym this summer and I’m just ready to get started, I think they’re excited.
How do you plan on putting your imprint on the program?
There’s going to be some changes. One of the changes is that we’re going to expect them to come up on Saturdays to put in some work. We’re also going to focus a lot more on conditioning to get our athletes ready.
What are some of the strategic things that will be different this year?
There are going to be some changes. We start on Monday. We’re going to change a little bit with our offense, a little bit with the defense, but our kids are some of the best athletes in the area so I know they’re going to be able to handle anything I’m going to throw at them. They’re also extremely hard-working, I know that they’re willing to put in the work and they’re ready to win.
What are some of the off-the-court lessons you plan to emphasize?
I want our kids to represent Killeen High School in a first-class manner, on and off the court. That’s our first priority, above winning. We need to represent the high school in a first-class manner, and our kids are going to know that.
Why did you pursue a career in coaching?
I just have a love of the game, I love it. I love being around it, I love playing it, I love coaching it. From the moment I went to college, I knew I wanted to be a coach, so that’s why I got involved right away in club ball. In the Chicagoland area, club ball has a huge presence, so that was the best way I could get involved there.
What can Lady Roo fans expect in the early part of the season?
With the transition phase that we’re in, people might underestimate us, but I’m excited to prove some people wrong. I think that our kids are going to be ready when it comes time to district.