By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Joan Wells coached 15 state championship volleyball teams and made 26 consecutive appearances in the Kansas state volleyball tournament.
Through all that success, the legendary coach from Lawrence High School in Lawrence, Kan. said June James — June Koleber before she met and married current Killeen softball coach Randy James — was probably the best female athlete to ever come out of Lawrence High.
"As many teams as she took to the state volleyball tournament and won the state volleyball tournament and as successful as she was, that is probably the most humbling statement that could've been made," June James said.
James, a long-time Lady Roos coach and current Killeen High assistant principal, and Wells were both a part of the inaugural class inducted into the Kansas Volleyball Association Hall of Fame in Topeka, Kan. on June. 2.
"That was a very humbling experience for me because I respect her and some of the other coaches that were there," James said of the ceremony. "Looking at what she's done and listening to them talk, she probably still is, even though she's retired, one of the most respected coaches, even in the nation, because of all the things that she has done. It was very humbling to me."
Wells' string of state championships began in 1975, James' senior year, with a perfect 22-0 season that looked in doubt in the Kansas 5-4A state title match.
But, it only looked that way.
"What I remember the most was you have a tendency not to lose, especially when things start going wrong," James said.
"We got behind in that last match, lost the first game and I think what was going through our minds when we were losing was, 'We can't lose. We need to be undefeated.'
"It brings back the mentality of you're a winner, you play to win, you play to the best of your capability, not to lose."
James also lettered in basketball and softball in three years at Lawrence.
She attended Kansas University on a basketball scholarship, but also played volleyball and softball while she was there.
James just finished her 30th year at Killeen High, where the first 21 years were spent coaching volleyball and other sports beginning in 1981.
"For a couple of years, I was the head volleyball and head basketball coach, which was the craziest time of my life because that was very difficult," James said.
"I loved my managers because they made sure I had the right clipboard at the right time because I would go from being a head coach in one gym, walk into the other gym and be the head coach of a totally different sport in that gym and they kept me straight."
James spent her last two seasons of coaching as the Lady Roos head basketball coach before stepping off the sideline for good when she was named an assistant principal following the 2003-04 basketball season.