Baranek: Jen DeJarld adds new chapter to Mother McAuley volleyball legacy
By Tony Baranek email@example.com November 18, 2013 9:36PM
Mother McAuley volleyball coach Jen DeJarld. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 20, 2013 6:25AM
Of shadows and seniors ...
On Saturday, Jen DeJarld earned her first championship in the nine years she’s been volleyball head coach at Mother McAuley.
It was an electric moment when the last point went on the board in a 25-22, 25-19 victory over Benet and the Mighty Macs jumped for joy on the court.
The previous time McAuley won it all was in 2004. It was Nancy Pedersen’s final season, after which she retired as a legend at the Southwest Side school with 829 victories and nine state titles.
DeJarld, Pedersen’s top assistant for a decade, was trusted with the McAuley legacy.
Who would have thought it would take this long to break out from under the shadow? One person who hasn’t wailed and gnashed her teeth about it is DeJarld.
“That’s not why I coach, only for a state championship,” she said. “I coach to work with young ladies in our neighborhood and our school, and I hope I’ve imparted something more than just volleyball wisdom to them.
“There are a lot of life lessons and being good people. Is it great? Absolutely. Is it addicting? I’ve been doing it 19 years, so, yeah. I’ve been a part of a lot of state championships. This one is very special because it’s my first as a head coach, and it’s with my daughter (Ryann) and my team.”
When you break down the career of Jen DeJarld, you’ve got to take a few things into account.
One of them is timing.
For all but one of Pedersen’s titles, Marist didn’t exist when it came to girls volleyball. In 2004, the RedHawks program, under another Pedersen protege, Natalie Holder, was just taking off.
The addition of another major option to play volleyball on the Southwest Side resulted in smaller freshman tryout days at McAuley.
Then there was the IHSA’s decision to go to four classes, which resulted in smaller postseason playoff fields that just don’t seem to change much from year to year.
Where with the two-class system McAuley could wind up going north to Palatine or Fremd, now it’s always the same 16-team sectional in the mega-strong south. This season’s Sandburg Sectional was so deep that 17-6 Richards was an 11 seed. Don’t expect that trend to change.
Through it all, DeJarld, who also has three third-place finishes and a second in Class 4A, still has had more state success than any other coach in the Southland.
Not bad following a classy, talented and successful act in Pedersen.
As for the seniors, much credit for McAuley’s run to the title has to go to Courtney Joyce, Jenny Phelan, Mallory Maxwell, Claire Martin, Lauren Carlson, Maddie Meyer, Molly Geary and Gabrielle Ennis.
Joyce, obviously, was the heart and soul of the Macs as the starting setter who had multidimensional talents. Phelan’s and Maxwell’s roles grew as the season went on as effective servers and defenders.
Even those who didn’t play a lot created an atmosphere the five sophomores (Ryann DeJarld, Carla Cahill, Maggie Scanlon, Kelsey Clark and Kennedy Arundel) DeJarld brought up for the 2012 run to a third-place finish in Class 4A could flourish.
“I’ve coached some of these kids since fifth and sixth grade,” DeJarld said. “They were special back then. My senior class, I knew there was something special in them. We had two classes loaded with talent, my juniors and seniors. I don’t get that every year.
“I was 10-strong in each class that came to us back to back. That’s pretty rare. The seniors, not only were they talented, but their leadership skills were so strong. My juniors, I hope they learned from those leadership skills, because we’re going to need a lot of leadership from them next year.”