Following the 2018-19 school year, Athletic Director Ron Dowd made the executive decision to add a new varsity head coach to the Walpole High School staff. Karen Clemons, previously a freshman volleyball coach in the Walpole program, was named varsity volleyball head coach.
Prior to taking the head coaching position, Clemons had been a part of the Lady Rebel volleyball program for seven years, coaching the freshman team. With over 35 years of playing and coaching experience, she played throughout junior high school and high school in her hometown in Kansas, where this popular sport first sparked her interest. She concluded her career after playing four years of college volleyball.
“My high school coach from Centralia, Kansas, Kim Tennal instilled a passion in me for the game of volleyball,” Clemons said. “It allowed me to play on a team and learn life lessons both on and off the court. I want to instill that same passion for the youth of Walpole to play and enjoy the game.”
Working alongside Clemons, captains Bridget Abril and Molly Whelan have noticed a turnaround in the overall atmosphere of the team, as the positivity and constructive criticism has benefited their team on and off the court.
“Coach Clemons brings a positive attitude and optimistic outlook to the team every day,” Abril said. “It encourages all of us to work harder to move towards our goals, while also having fun.”
Clemons and her team have set important goals to beat some of their better opponents and qualifying for the MIAA State Tournament. Some of these goals have already been set in motion, with the team beating Weymouth, Braintree and their hardest opponent: Wellesley.
“My hope is that the team makes the postseason, but it is a tall order with extremely tough competition in our league,” Clemons said. “My coaching goals for this year are to break down specific techniques and responsibilities for each position. Each position has specific roles and responsibilities, and often times the small overlooked details are the difference between winning points in the match.”
Coach Clemons works with all of her athletes to help them realize their potential and responsibilities as a teammate. Being with some of the same girls since their freshman year, she knows all of the players’ styles and how to push them on certain areas needed to be focused on.
“Coach Clemons is beneficial to our team because she has been in the program for so long,” Whelan said. “By planning every practice down to the minute she challenges us all and forces us to rely on each other for support.”
Clemons’s extensive background and love for the sport of volleyball has led to her overall success thus far in the season. She continues to set high expectations and works to better her team every day.
“My expectations for this team are to continue to work together to get better every day, every practice, and every set,” Clemons said. “Nothing is given in this league; it has to be earned. I am confident The Lady Rebels will continue to improve as the season progresses and have a bright future ahead.”