PORT ARTHUR – Jessica Callahan has joined the Lamar State College-Port Arthur athletics family as its first-ever volleyball coach.
Callahan, a longtime high school coach, was selected from a group of more than 50 applicants nationwide, according to Athletic Director Scott Street. “Her attention to the student-athlete not just on the court but in the classroom helped our selection committee make up its mind,” he said. “Jessica is a quality candidate with a great background in coaching and student mentoring. She will make a great addition to our coaching staff here at Lamar State College-Port Arthur.”
Callahan most recently was head volleyball coach at Atascocita High School in Humble. Before that she was head coach at Alvin High School and was owner of the H.I.T. Volleyball Academy where she helped teach up-and-coming volleyball players. This school year, Callahan has been teaching at Lumberton ISD while she looked for a local volleyball coaching position.
“I had a coaching friend who told me about the position at Lamar State and was saying that it would be a great position for me,” she said. “I was kind of waiting to see what would open up for me here and once I learned about the job, came and visited the campus, I knew it was a good fit.
“Ideally, coaching at the college level is something that you strive for but I was really happy being a successful high school coach. I was kind of zoned in on high school positions but my friend told me this would be a perfect job for me,” she said. “That kind of took the blinders off and I saw that there was a real opportunity here.”
During her four seasons as head coach at Atascocita High School, she put together a 71-59 overall record with a 33-14 mark in district play. Her teams went to the playoff each of her four years there, including a trip four rounds deep in the 2009-2010 season.
“As a coach I want to have a winning season. For me this year, starting out with what we have and starting late in the recruiting process, if we went .500 I would be really proud,” she said. “However, given my competitive nature, it’s hard for me not to say ‘I want to win them all.’ I’m not one of those coaches who says it’s ok to lose. I want to win.”
Callahan is already on the recruiting road for the Seahawks, using both her Houston and Southeast Texas connections to mine local talent for the upcoming season at LSC-PA.
“I’m very aggressive offensively, so I’m looking for strong offensive players, players who are very competitive, who have that desire to win and are willing to put in the time and effort to do it,” she said. “There are a lot of good athletes here locally who don’t get the exposure that athletes get in the Houston area. I’m hoping that one of the benefits of starting the program here is to get more exposure for these local athletes. They get to come into a junior college and then we’ll be able to send them out into Division I schools after they’ve had the right training and experience.”
Callahan’s thoughts on junior college volleyball come from her own experiences as a player at Utah Valley State College in Orem, Utah. She then earned a spot on the volleyball team at the University of Houston for her junior and senior seasons.
During her time at Utah Valley State, she helped lead her team to two consecutive trips to the junior college national championship tournament, including a 31-11 conference championship season her sophomore year.
“I like the sense of community here at Lamar State College-Port Arthur,” she said. “There’s a lot of support and it feels like a family atmosphere. My first two years playing in college was for a junior college and it was the best experience for me. It was two of the best years of my life. There was just a great atmosphere and great coaching, I felt at home and Lamar State reminds me of that experience.”