Ready to begin a new chapter in life
Jen Teale wouldn’t trade 12 years of coaching in the Warwick girls volleyball program for anything.
Her passion for the sport and the relationships that she has built since coming on board in 2002 will always be in Teale’s heart.
So handing in her resignation to Athletic Director Ryan Landis during the last week of May &tstr; ending a nine-year tenure as the Lady Warriors’ head coach &tstr; was by no means an easy decision.
But with she and her husband Scott expecting their first child in October, it was one Teale knew she had to make.
“One of the biggest things I love about coaching is just seeing the girls grow and seeing the girls play and seeing them mature from the teaching aspect of it. So it was definitely a hard decision,” Teale said. “But it’s a chapter of my life that I’ve learned a lot from and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s time to start a new chapter, I guess.”
Her Warwick coaching chapter started in 2002 when then-Athletic Director Terry Kauffman hired Teale, a new graduate out of the University of Delaware, as the JV coach. With three years under her belt in that role, she took over as the head coach in 2005, inhering a Lady Warriors team which finished 0-14 one year earlier.
In her inaugural season, Teale guided Warwick to the L-L playoff semi-finals with a 7-7 regular-season record and then on to Districts. In her nine years at the helm overall, the Lady Warriors were 55-44 in league play, with six appearances in the L-L playoffs and five trips to the District Three Tournament. Under Teale’s leadership, Warwick advanced as far as the District quarterfinals three times, including back-to-back seasons in 2012-13.
“All three of those years (along with 2009), we basically missed the State Tournament by one match is what it boils down to,” Teale recalled.
She pointed to the development of a middle school program, under the direction of Keith Olena, as playing a key role in the program’s turnaround. With Olena now coaching at LMH, Warwick is currently looking for a coach to fill his shoes as well.
Teale also credited the support she got from assistant coaches, parents, the community and of course, the players for contributing to their success.
“I’m proud of where we are because I feel like I’m leaving a strong program and a program that’s very deep with talent,” she remarked. “I’m leaving not only a program that’s deep with talent, but I’m leaving parents who are really invested in the program as well. It’s not just me that makes it that way. I’ve had help with so many assistant coaches, I had help with Keith Olena who ran the middle school program for seven or eight years for me. Going into coaching, it wasn’t a job. It was fun. I’d always been used to being in the gym for volleyball. But it was a lot of time and a lot of planning and a lot of meetings and putting things together and a lot of people contributed.”
This fall will mark the first time since she started playing volleyball as a 14-year-old freshman at Conestoga Valley that she will not be on the court. Admittedly, her emotions at this point are surreal.
“I think when Aug. 11 rolls around and I know it’s that first day of pre-season, then it will start to hit me,” Teale said. “It’s going to be really different not having to go back in the middle of August. I’m sure I’m going to have other things on my mind for family, but Warwick volleyball will always be a part of me.”
Asked if her decision was particularly difficult knowing the potential of the 2014 squad, with a strong nucleus of players returning, Teale said, “Absolutely. This season coming up has tremendous potential. It’s always hard to say good-bye to the seniors, but then you know that there’s this junior class that’s going to move up and be seniors and you’re always excited to see how they take that leadership role. The girls who are going to be seniors this year are a great group and again the freshman class was so strong last year.”
Landis said that a committee will probably conduct interviews for the opening next week, with the hope of getting a recommendation to the Warwick school board for its meeting on July 15.
When that time comes, Teale intends to give the new coach his or her space to run the program. Regardless, she will certainly be a fan of Warwick volleyball.
“I will definitely be in the stands cheering and probably having a little baby mascot there sooner or later,” Teale said. “I’m hoping that the program is in good hands with whoever gets the job. The players are fantastic, the parents are fantastic … I mean it’s just such a good relationship from the parents association. I feel supported, I feel like we’re all on the same page. It’s really hard to say good-bye. But it’s something that needs to be done. I’ve thought a lot about it and I’ve talked to a lot of people about it, so in the end that was my final decision.”