Kuiper steps in to lead CSLA volleyball
When C.S. Lewis Academy athletic director Steve Wallo invited former George Fox University player Jenna Kuiper (née Dohren) to run the school's summer volleyball camp, it was intended as a bit of a tryout for the vacant head coaching position.
Wallo didn't tell the players that, however, and when he asked for some feedback on her, many assumed that she had already been hired.
As it turns out, she might as well have been because Wallo offered her the job midway through the camp.
"I was able to watch her on site a couple of days," he said. "She was great."
What stood out most to Wallo was Kuiper's demeanor when working with players.
"She's a teacher. We had the same discussion I've had with every coach I've hired, that at C.S. Lewis you have to teach the sport. You're going to be dealing with a high number of kids that don't have that much experience in the sport. It's not unusual for us to have a kid play a varsity sport that's never played before."
Apparently, the feeling was mutual when it came to instructing C.S. Lewis athletes.
"I really enjoyed it," Kuiper said. "All the girls were really sweet, really easy to work with and very eager to learn, which I really like for my style of coaching. I'm really excited."
After graduating from North Medford High School, Kuiper played libero at George Fox from 2007 to 2010 and earned her degree in the spring of 2012. She met her husband there and when he landed a job in the Tualatin area, they decided to settle in Newberg and are now raising two children.
Kuiper said she hasn't been very involved in volleyball since graduating, just playing in a few alumni games and open gyms, but she had established a relationship with George Fox coach Emily Palkert, who is entering her second season with the Bruins.
Wallo had reached out to Palkert and she in turn reached out to Kuiper.
"I've kind of gotten to know her a little bit because we graduated the same year," Kuiper said. "She was the one who actually texted me and asked me just if I knew anyone who might be interested. I said I was actually interested. It just kind of worked out from there."
Wallo has relied on George Fox students or recent graduates to handle coaching duties the past few seasons, which has been a good solution in many ways, but has led to a lot of turnover.
"At a place like us, we're not paying, so unless we trip on some retired person that is going to give some time, our coaches aren't going to stick around a long time anyhow," he said. "So if I can get some vibrant, young kids that have real good character and are good role models, will work hard and are going to teach, it works for us. Jenna's a little more stable than that."
Wallo said he appreciated how Kuiper broke things down to the fundamentals when working at the camp and that both younger and older students really seemed to respond to her.
Kuiper herself is just excited to reconnect with the sport, albeit in a new way.
"(I'm) just looking at it from a different standpoint because I'm so used to being a player," Kuiper said. "I've done a little bit of coaching, but not a ton, so it will be fun to be on the other side this time and watch the girls improve."