Sideline couple pumps up volleyball

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Olivia Hutchinson

Volleyball assistant coaches Justin and Joanna Haupt look forward to their season as UPJ coaches

Olivia Hutchinson, Editor-in-Chief

For the most part, assistant coaches are used to exchanging practice drills, game strategies and ideas, but the UPJ women’s volleyball team’s two new assistant coaches also have exchanged vows.

Married on Aug. 21, 2010, Joanna and Justin Haupt, along with head coach Linda Renzi, have kicked off their first college coaching careers with a 4-1 record.

Joanna, who is a previous California University of Pennsylvania volleyball player, said she enjoys coaching with her husband.

“I love coaching with Justin because I always know someone has my back, and I think we compliment each other very well,” said Joanna. “He always knows what to say, and he’s very observant and intelligent.

“Coaching is something else we can do together as well.”

Although Justin said they share a love for coaching, it can be tough working with a spouse.

“I think it is more challenging when we disagree on an idea or coaching philosophy,” said Justin.

This season, Joanna said she is getting used to coaching from the sidelines, rather than playing on the court.

“Seeing how things work on the other end of volleyball as a coach rather than a player has already been a huge eye-opener,” said Joanna. “The girls have great attitudes and are making our jobs easy so far.

“This year is really a learning year for us as coaches.”

Justin said this year the biggest challenge is getting familiar with coaching at a new level.

“It’s going to be a challenge, getting accustomed to coaching at the college level while at the same time trying to get to know 18 girls and get the best out of them,” said Justin.

“Our plans . . . for the team. . . are to work as hard as possible to give them the best chance to succeed.

“You need to find what motivates each one, and what method of coaching yields the best results and that is something you need to adjust on a person-to-person basis,” said Justin.

In addition to getting to know the team, Joanna said that understanding the college recruiting system will be a challenge.

Until we learn all the rules and get a procedure into place about how to go about recruiting, it will be difficult.  We are however, really excited to continue building the program.”

With the announcement of the team entering the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference next year, Justin said the team will face tougher competition.

“The Pennsylvania conference is the most dominant conference in the state for women’s volleyball, so we will need to continue to elevate our game.”

Joanna said entering the new conference will motivate the girls to continue to work hard every day.

“Entering the conference poses a huge challenge to us, but I really feel like it is our future,” said Joanna. “With higher-caliber teams, our main goal will be to focus on what we do in our gym and on our side of the net.

Joanna said she maybe has an advantage coaching against California University of Pennsylvania, having played for that team.

“It will definitely be interesting coaching against a lot of my friends who still play, but I really hope I can apply some things I learned from my coaches (at California).”

Sophomore Nikki Oakes said having a previous California player will help the Pitt-Johnstown team next year.

“Having Joanna as a (California) player is awesome. She knows exactly what we need to prepare for and how to get us there.”

Oakes said working with two new coaches has brought new drills and ideas.

“We have been able to work on a lot of new things and Justin and Joanna bring a lot of new drills most of us have not seen before,” said Oakes. “They bring a lot of fire and intensity to the gym and help coach to get the most out of us.”