The Lipscomb Lady Bisons volleyball program has produced four Atlantic Sun Conference championships and four trips to the NCAA Tournament in the past six years. But the program is providing a legacy of a different sort that goes beyond championships. Five former Lady Bisons, who played for Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal, are involved in coaching at the high school level. In a modified addition of this week’s “Where Are They Now” those former players talk about the impact that Lipscomb volleyball had on their lives and how they try to instill those same ideals in their players.
They bring different personalities and different skill levels, but the former Lipscomb players working as high school coaches all bring slices of what they learned under Rosenthal to their own players.
Ann Mullins just finished her second year as the varsity coach at Ensworth where her team finished third in Division II-AA. Jess Enderle, with two state championships to her credit at Page High in Franklin, advanced to the state tournament this season. Stefine “Jake” Pease House reached the Region 5-AA semifinals in her first year at Lipscomb Academy. Katie Rose returned to her high school alma mater Dunbar High in Lexington, Ky., where she is an assistant coach for the varsity and the head coach for the junior varsity. Kaycee Green, while completing her student teaching, coached the freshmen at Ravenwood High while also serving as an assistant on the varsity which finished second in Class AAA this season.
Rosenthal admits that it is rewarding to see his players coaching on the high school level. Many of them coach club volleyball as well.
“One of the biggest things I take away from watching them coach in high school and in the club world is their attention to detail, the accountability and the idea that they hold their kids to a higher standard,” Rosenthal said. “I am proud of each one of them. They have taken something from the program and now they are trying to pass it own. Lipscomb volleyball is floating out there and will continue.”
Rosenthal always puts the program ahead of the team concept. The coaching success of his players is part of that overall philosophy.
“It goes well beyond their four years here,” Rosenthal said. “They are able as coaches to give back. Lipscomb University and the Lipscomb volleyball name filter through a lot of impressionable people.”
Closer to God
House spent two years as a graduate assistant for the Lady Bisons after four stellar seasons as a setter from 2007-2010. She was Atlantic Sun Player of the Year in 2010.
She wants her players to feel like they are more than just part of a team.
“The biggest thing I bring in is allowing the girls to buy in to something bigger than them,” House said. “No coach is ever going to be completely right. I am not always right.
“I want them to be a part of a family. I know Brandon really preaches that. Another thing is always working as hard as you can every day and allowing that to get you places where you want to go.”
House teaches geometry and Algebra I, at Lipscomb Academy. She likes being able to simply concentrate on making her team better. The trip to the regional was the first for the program in four seasons.
“In college you have to prepare for travel and recruit, but I am bless to be able to get our girls better volleyball-wise and then helping them to learn life lessons and become better people,” House said. “I like having the kids have some type of role model in their lives.
“My first love has always been volleyball. I want to make sure that volleyball is still part of my life. Teaching and coaching were the best ways to do so. I like being able to share my excitement and passion with the kids.”
House has been working hard to elevate the program, but she wants her players to be as driven as she is to excel in volleyball.
“I also enjoyed focusing on God and keeping that in the forefront of all of the players’ minds,” House said. “He gave us the ability to play volleyball. That is why we are out there. We give everything to Him.
“We tried to have a devotional every day after practice. The girls were responsible for it. Every girl was responsible for a day. It gave the girls a chance to get to know each other as more than teammates.”
Rosenthal knows that House has a great understanding of what it takes to make her players successes on and off of the court.
“Jake understands there is lots of room to grow,” Rosenthal said. “But at the same time there is a standard and she is not going to accept anything but that standard. That is a neat thing to hear.
Education pushes Mullins
Rosenthal urged Mullins to pursue a Master’s degree in order to enhance her chances of getting a high school coaching position. She spent three years as the head volleyball coach at Siegel in Murfreesboro before making the move to Ensworth.
Mullins was a libero at Lipscomb from 2005-2007, earning Atlantic Sun Defensive Player of the Year in 2005.
“Brandon filled in the pieces for me academically,” Mullins said. “He cared so much about me succeeding and getting me to the coaching level that he thought I was capable of doing. That was going to take earning a Master’s in learning and teaching at Lipscomb in 2010.
She also served as a graduate assistant coach at Lipscomb.
“He is the sole reason I probably am coaching today, and playing such a huge role in the lives of young women in club and high school volleyball," Mullins said. "The college game was not necessarily my passion as a coach. I prefer to work with the younger kids.
“It is more teaching and coaching of volleyball in the club and high school scenes. Those scenes are all about teaching the kids life lessons and growing them in a different direction with their lives and in volleyball. I like that atmosphere better than the college atmosphere.”
Where Mullins thinks she has an impact is in her influence on how her players act away from the court.
“Brandon holds his players to a standard of being polite and respectful,” Mullins said. “He taught me about all of the little stuff outside of the sport.”
“Brandon was definitely an influence on me,” Mullins said. “Every coach I have played for was an influence in some way. They always gave back to the sport that they loved. It was a great example for me to give back to the sport that I love.”
Rosenthal has worked with Mullins on the club level.
“She raises her programs to a higher standard,” Rosenthal said.
Hard work equals success
Green, an outside hitter from 2009-2012, has worked as a student teacher in elementary school and high school. She is at West End Middle School in her final round of student teaching.
She was invited to work with the freshman team and help with the varsity at Ravenwood by coach Tracey Berry. It was a challenge this season to balance her time.
“I never thought I was going to coach,” Green said. “I coached 12 year olds in club volleyball this past year and I loved it. I will coach 11 year olds in club starting in the spring.”
Green often finds herself repeating phrases that she heard from Rosenthal.
“Ravenwood won three state championships in a row,” Green said. “I remember Brandon telling us we had a target on our back in college just like Ravenwood did in high school. I used that phrase constantly this past season.
“Brandon wanted us to give our all 24/7. We expected the most from ourselves and held ourselves and our teammates accountable. We pushed to be the best we could be.”
Rosenthal was impressed with the way Green worked with camps during her college career. He expects her to continue to improve as a coach.
“Kaycee has done a fantastic job with us during the past four years working in camps,” Rosenthal said. “She is a quiet, reserved person, but she is awesome with kids.”
You can go home again
The varsity program at Dunbar has been in the top 10 in the state of Kentucky for most of the season. This is Rose’s second year to work with both programs.
She didn’t expect to be a coach so soon in her career.
“The opportunity arose and I couldn’t pass it up,” Rose said.
Rose played for the Lady Bisons from 2008-2011, earning Atlantic Sun Player of the Year in 2011. She learned the importance of hard work as a player under Rosenthal. She teaches fourth grade at Sandersville Elementary School.
“When you hold your girls to such a high standard they learn to play that way,” Rose said. “If you work hard it pays off.
“Brandon taught us life lessons. He went outside of volleyball. The morals he taught us I have used in teaching and in coaching. I didn’t really expect to do that, but what he taught us is engraved in my mind forever.”
The Dunbar volleyball players made a trip to Lipscomb a little over a month ago. They had a chance to see the Lipscomb volleyball team in action.
“They saw what I was talking about,” Rose said. “Being able to see it in person made it more real for them.”
For Rose one of the key words associated with the Lipscomb volleyball team that she uses with her own players is moxie.
“It is kind of an attitude you have,” Rose said. “When you believe in yourself and believe in your teammates you can go really far.”
Like most players Rose misses her days in uniform. But coaching allows her to stay close to the sport.
“When you come to games you can’t help but miss it,” Rose said. “Brandon does a really good job of making you fall in love with the game again or continue that love. I hope that one day I can inspire the girls I coach to feel the same way that Brandon made us feel about the game.”
Rosenthal was not surprised to see Rose enter the coaching ranks.
“Moving back home it was an opportunity for her to give back,” Rosenthal said. “Obviously, she is well liked everywhere she goes. She was a legend at her high school and rightfully so.
“I think Katie is a fantastic teacher. She is one of a kind when it comes to her personality. I would think her players would be attracted to that.”
We are family
Enderle played for the Lady Bisons from 2004-2007. She established a Tennessee branch of Club West, which was started by her father in California. She has won two Class AA State Championships at Page High in 2011 and 2010.
Her players are considered to be family members.
“I would probably credit this to Brandon,” Enderle said. “I would say it is a sense of family. One thing that people always say about us at Club West is that we are very family-oriented. My program at Page is also very much a family.
“The importance of having a sense of family and a sense of community is something I learned from Brandon. Your family is not just the people who are connected by blood to you. Your family can be created as well.”
She uses a number of the things she learned while playing for Rosenthal in her own programs on both the club and high school level.
“I got called out in the Williamson County coaches meeting earlier this season,” Enderle said. “The county athletic director came to Page and watched our play day.
“I did what Brandon made us do all through college. When a new person came to practice or a game we all had to introduce ourselves. At Page I made the girls introduce themselves to the county A.D. He loved it.”
Rosenthal stresses that Enderle has a deep understanding of how volleyball should be played.
“Jess has a good working knowledge of the game,” Rosenthal said. “She has done a lot of great things.
“I have been able to go out and watch her coach. She encourages her girls. She is entrenched in youth volleyball because of her ties to her club, Club West.”