Volleyball is a passion for Laura Rowen. She readily admits that fact.
“I’m very passionate about the sport. Volleyball is a huge sanctuary for me,” Rowen said. “I want to coach so my players love the game as much as I do and have fun playing it.”
Rowen is Newton High’s new head volleyball coach. Although practices began today for the 2014 volleyball season, Rowen is not new to Newton or the Cardinal volleyball players.
Rowen coached the NHS junior varsity squad the past two years. With the retirement of longtime head coach Kim Florke at the end of the 2013 season, Rowen applied for the head coaching position.
She was told in January the job was hers.
“I went to work right then, making plans and putting them together,” Rowen said. “Things have gone really well heading into the season. We had open gym two days a week this summer where we worked on hitting arm swings.
“And we just got in and played a little and had fun with it. We also lifted. The girls have really responded well.”
Rowen is an Eldora native, but moved to Hampton as a freshman in high school. The multi-sports high school athlete went on to play volleyball at University of Northern Iowa.
Following college, Rowen was the head volleyball coach at Columbus-Waterloo.
She said she was searching for the right teaching-coaching fit. Rowen said she has family in Newton and began looking into a part-time physical education position in the Newton school district.
“I had been doing some at-risk education at Waterloo and Newton was in the progress of implementing an at-risk program. They (Newton) encouraged me to look at that position,” Rowen said. “I love it. If I’m not teaching P.E., this is the area I want to teach in.”
Rowen teaches in the Newton I-Launch program with freshmen and sophomores. She also teaches health education at NHS.
There was a volleyball position open at Newton as well, which Rowen accepted at the same time.
“I went into education because I love working with kids, but I wanted to get in the volleyball coaching aspect of it as well,” she said.
Going into her first year as head coach, Rowen said the transition has been smooth. Newton graduated a large senior class of varsity players at the end of last year.
“A lot of the girls I have on the varsity this year, I coached on the junior varsity the past two years. We’ve made the transition together,” she said. “We just finished our camp (last week) and all the players are excited. They are hard workers.”
Rowen said she is a coach who stresses fundamentals — “if you can’t pass, you can’t do anything. It all starts there. As a team you identify your strengths and build on that.”
Rowen was an outside hitter in high school and college volleyball. She said she played volleyball all year round plus competed in high school basketball, track and softball.
“I encourage students to be active in all the sports they want to be in,” she said. “Being active in sports is not just about the competition but building relationships.”
Building relationships on and off the volleyball court is another important factor in Rowen’s coaching philosophy. She said she wants to set them up to be successful in the game of volleyball, but also for life itself.
Rowen’s staff for this season includes Mallory Sturz, who moves up from coaching the freshman squad to junior varisty. Shareah Sharp is Rowen’s varsity assistant coach. Jennifer Mouchka and Michaela Wood will coach the freshman team.
“We’re excited to get the season started. We’re out to encourage students and other fans to come out and fill the gym at home. We want it loud in our gym,” Rowen said. “On Oct. 7, we’ll have a ‘Dig Pink’ night to support breast cancer awareness. We’ll be selling pink shirts and want to have a sea of pink in the stands that night.”
Family is important to Rowen as well as her teaching and volleyball. She has five nieces and nephews in the area to watch grow up.
Contact Sports Editor Jocelyn Sheets at (641) 792-3121 Ext. 6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org