April 21, 2011

Leah Johnson Named Head Volleyball Coach

April 21, 2011

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill.- Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has hired Leah Johnson as its Head Volleyball Coach Director of Athletics, Dr. Bradley Hewitt announced.

"Leah Johnson brings everything that we were looking for in a head coach," Hewitt said. "She is very organized and has a plan of how to succeed at SIUE. She shares our vision of success on the floor and in the classroom."

Johnson comes to SIUE after most recently serving last season as a volunteer assistant at the University of Notre Dame and brings four years' experience as an assistant coach at the Division I level, as well as four years' experience as a player.

"Leah has championship experience at the Division I level both as a player and as a coach," Hewitt continued. "She has had the chance to coach at some great institutions and work with some accomplished head coaches."

At Notre Dame, Johnson was involved in numerous areas of the Big East program including executing practice plans, directing position-specific film sessions, scouting opponents, and tracking opponents' offense during matches. Johnson focused on the skill growth of defensive players and primary passers. Johnson helped direct libero Frenchy Silva who was selected for the U.S. Women's National A2 Program. While with the Irish, Johnson served under Head Coach Debbie Brown, a five-time Big East Coach of the Year Award winner.

Prior to Notre Dame, Johnson served two seasons as an assistant coach at her alma mater, Missouri State, where she assisted in all facets of the Missouri Valley program including recruiting, training, scouting, team travel, and marketing of the program. In 2009 Johnson mentored libero Cara Hackmann who was selected as CVU.com's and the MVC's Libero of the Year. She was also named the Defensive Player of the Year in the Missouri Valley.

The Bears earned more than 20 wins in each of Johnson's seasons there. Missouri State advanced to the 2008 NCAA Tournament after winning the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament where the Bears defeated ninth-ranked Wichita State on its home floor. The 2009 team finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference standings with a 14-4 record.

Johnson also served one season as an assistant coach at Texas-Pan American where she also was involved in all facets of the program while specifically serving as the program's recruiting coordinator. Johnson served as UTPA's Interim Head Coach during the 2007 Great West Conference Tournament.

Johnson has experience coaching summer and travel camps for Notre Dame, Missouri State, and Kansas.

For two years prior to joining Missouri State's staff, Johnson owned, directed, and coached Club 417 Volleyball, a USAV program for players ages 15-18 in Springfield, Mo. Her club qualified for the 2005 and 2006 USAV National Tournament.

As a player, Johnson played four years for Missouri State where the Bears won 20 or more games in each of her four seasons as a player. Johnson was part of the team that advanced to the NCAA tournament after defeating tenth-ranked UNI in 2003. That team went on to win the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. Johnson was selected to the MVC's Scholar-Athlete Team as a senior. She also was a three-time recipient of the Missouri State Volleyball Heart Award. Voted on by the players, the award honors the player exhibiting the most heart, dedication, commitment, effort, and encouragement.

What they're saying about Leah Johnson:

"I think she is a steal for (SIUE). She already has the makings of a great head coach. She is highly organized, she communicates very well and she understands the game. She is a great teacher and has great rapport with the student-athletes. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to work with her." -Debbie Brown, Head Volleyball Coach, University of Notre Dame

"I knew Leah was going to be a good coach from the moment I started coaching her as a player. She has a very high volleyball I.Q. As soon as I had the opportunity to hire her at Missouri State, I did so. She'll relate well to the student-athletes. She's more than ready to be a head coach." -Melissa Stokes, Head Volleyball Coach, Missouri State University

"Leah will be a tremendous asset to the SIU Edwardsville Volleyball program and Athletic Department. She has a strong knowledge of the game; she is a great trainer and will represent the University well. I truly believe that she is one of the young, up and coming coaches in the country and I am excited to see the positive impact she will have within the SIU Edwardsville program, on campus, and throughout the Edwardsville Community." -Angela Hubbard, Associate Athletic Director, Former Head Volleyball Coach, University of Texas-Pan American