‘Determination, dedication’: Q&A with Moffat County volleyball coach Jessica Profumo
June 4, 2018
Moffat County High School’s newest coaching hire is looking to net some success this fall.
Jessica Profumo was hired in May as the head coach for the Lady Bulldog volleyball program. Profumo most recently oversaw the eighth-grade squad at Craig Middle School, with her A-Team repeating their district championship title from the previous year, which she also coached.
The same set of girls will be freshmen at MCHS this fall, though they’ll have their work cut out for them to vie for spots on the varsity roster amid many upperclassmen as open gyms run through July and full practice sessions take place in August. She also looks to host a summer tournament and a youth camp.
Profumo takes the reins from Erin Knez, who opted not to return to Moffat County athletics due to family obligations.
Profumo’s history with the sport goes back to a competitive West Coast volleyball scene, and it’s that same intensity she hopes to instill in her players.
Craig Press: What kind of experience in volleyball or other sports do you have as a player or a coach?
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Profumo: Growing up I played every sport I could because I loved sports, loved to compete and you know, beating the boys. (Laughs) Volleyball, basketball, softball, track, tennis, swimming. When I was in middle school, we swept everybody around us for a couple years, which was nice, but in high school I was volleyball only. I’m from California originally and went to Granada High School in Livermore, and we had set the state record for consecutive league wins, basically undefeated in league every year. I also played for Golden Bear Volleyball Club in Berkeley, my mom had to drive me to that.
I earned co-MVP of the league with Nicole Branagh. At the time I was upset about being “co-” but looking back it is a great accomplishment to be associated with such a successful Olympian and professional volleyball player. Another name that might be more familiar to people is (three-time gold medalist) Kerri Walsh — I had to compete against her in club every weekend. It was definitely high-level competition and a lot of fun. That’s what I told girls here is that I want them to have a little bit of the satisfaction knowing that hard work pays off and that they’ll see some success.
I was recruited by a lot of colleges starting my freshman year of high school, and by senior year I had 10-plus offers, did some trips. As much as I loved it, it was still just a way to get to go to school and have it paid for. I ended up going to Northeastern University in Boston, loved the campus and the school in general. Got a full ride there, played for two years, I was Rookie of the Year in the conference and sophomore year I was First Team All-Conference, then ended up transferring to San Jose State. I felt like I was doing pretty well against the competition I had there but I wanted to take it up a level, since California is pretty high competition. I played there in the spring, then I got injured and kind of took that as a chance to take a break. That’s how I met my husband and had a family, so sometimes things work out.
As far as coaching, I coached a freshman and JV team at Livermore High School, and both of those teams were undefeated. I was actually coaching for my cross-town rival, so some people weren’t too happy with that, but it was a great experience. After that, I took a break for the kids, and we moved out here in 2008.
What was your main motivation for taking the head coach job?
I'm excited to share my passion for the game of volleyball with the girls at MCHS, but most importantly I hope that all the hard work, determination and dedication they put in on the court will help further develop values that spill over into other areas of their lives and will continue to benefit them for years beyond the court.
With your time spent working with middle school athletes, do you feel that will benefit the program now that they are at the high school level?
I think understanding the level of the girls coming up does two things: it makes me excited for the future of the programs at both the middle school and high school levels, and I look forward to continuing to develop a high level of play where more advanced technical skills and strategies make the game even more exciting.
With multiple coaching changes in recent years, what do you think is the biggest struggle Bulldog volleyball has faced that you hope to take on in the position?
My aim is to consistently inspire enthusiasm in education and athletics. It is difficult to succeed in anything without enthusiasm.
What parts of the game do you hope to emphasize in practices — strength, stamina, teamwork, mentality?
Well, I will emphasize all of those at crucial moments throughout the season, but my list of priorities would begin, first, with attitude and mental toughness and then, second, strong fundamental skills and knowledge.
At this age, what can be the biggest obstacle for athletes?
I think the high school years can be a complete roller coaster of excitement and stress, but being able to bring that all to a consistent level in practice daily is helpful for student-athletes. I hope to build a team culture where players know they are safe, they can get used to pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and develop ownership and leadership. Our team will be a family for better or worse, and supporting each other is essential.
Do you feel there are Moffat County athletes who show the potential at this stage to play beyond the high school level?
The athletic ability here in Moffat County is pretty impressive. That being said, to play volleyball beyond high school takes serious dedication as well as proper exposure and recruiting instruction. College-level players coming out of Moffat County is a possibility if the desire meets the talent.
By the end of the season, what is the experience you want your players to have had?
By the end of the season, I hope each player understands how much I value their dedication to our program. I hope they are thankful for my high expectations of them and the high expectations they have developed of themselves.