Jenna Persinger came to the Wilmington High School volleyball program with one thing in mind.
Change the culture.
A once proud program under head coach Gary Downing, WHS volleyball had fallen on hard times and struggled to produce a winner in recent years. In fact, in 2016 and 2017, Wilmington did not win a match.
In her four seasons at WHS, Persinger grew the program from seven wins in 2018 to 14 wins in 2021.
Now, with one of the toughest decisions she’s been faced with, Persinger is stepping down as head coach.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, believe me,” she said. “To be honest, I think I just need a break. My dream was always to be a head volleyball coach, and I am forever grateful to (athletic director) Mr. (Troy) Diels and Wilmington for making that dream come true. I have truly loved every minute of it. It was my passion and has consumed my life for the past four years. I’ve just reached a point in my life where I’m ready to take a step back and take a break.
“I am not leaving to go coach anywhere else; there’s nowhere I’d rather be than Wilmington. This is strictly a personal decision that has been on my heart for the past couple years; with the success we experienced this past season I felt that I had done what I came to Wilmington to do. I wanted to end on a positive note and I truly feel like the program is in a great position for the next coach to step in a continue to build and take the program to the next level.”
Diels said the volleyball program is in a much better place as Persinger exits than it was when she arrived.
“Coach Persinger took our program to a level that we had not seen in a few years at Wilmington,” Diels said. “Our teams became much more competitive during her first two years and really took that next step the last two years under her leadership. We want to thank Jenna for all the work she put in during her tenure and wish her the best of luck with her future plans.”
Persinger said over the years, the Hurricane program has involved more girls in club volleyball in the spring, higher attendance in summer workouts and open gyms and higher numbers in-season to field a freshman team.
However, the coach said she’s had plenty of help in righting the ship.
”Jenna Persinger did not change the course of the Hurricane volleyball program,” she said. “I was simply blessed to be able to lead and be a part of it. My first year as a head coach, I could not have made it through that season without Megan Aber and Maggie Reagan. Aber was my JV coach for three years and it was so helpful having her in the building with me working in another district. My second year Jamie Bryant joined as my assistant and she has been my go-to for the past three years. She was a standout player and brings a wealth of knowledge to the program.
“Most recently, Tammy Martin and Chailyn Johns came on board last season and did a fantastic job with our middle school program. To me that’s one of the most important parts … the foundation they lay in middle school is what we build upon for the next three to four years. If I had to say the one thing I’m most proud of in all that, personally, was to have one of my former players come back and join our staff after she graduated. That really meant a lot to me personally.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports