For the first time in six seasons, Stevens Point Area Senior High will have a new volleyball coach in the fall.
SPASH athletic director Stephanie Hauser has confirmed to the Journal that Julie Johnson will not return for a sixth season at the helm of the program.
“All of our coaches are on one-year contracts, and her contract was not renewed,” Hauser said. “We would like to thank coach Johnson for her years of service.
“She had some nice teams during her time here and definitely put SPASH volleyball back where it’s in a respectable position again.”
Hauser said the varsity volleyball opening has been posted and that three interested applicants have already expressed their interest in the position.
After five seasons, Hauser felt it was time for a change.
“We’re looking for new leadership and what’s in the best interest of the kids,” Hauser said. “We’re looking for someone with strong leadership for the program, and someone who can really develop the whole program, including the youth program.
“Someone who can take the reins and really move the program forward.”
Efforts to reach Johnson for comment were unsuccessful.
Johnson enjoyed a nice run with the Panthers in her five seasons at the helm, including back-to-back third-place finishes in the seven-team Wisconsin Valley Conference the past two seasons.
SPASH also finished second in 2011 and third in 2010 after placing fifth in her first season, while reaching sectional play twice. SPASH has not reached the WIAA State Tournament since 1986.
The Panthers lose five seniors from last year’s team, including middle blocker Kara Stutesman, setter MaKynna Lesinski and libero Arlie Buerger. Lesinski was a second team All-WVC pick.
Whomever takes over for Johnson won’t face a major rebuilding effort, however.
Senior-to-be Haley Williams was a unanimous All-Valley first team selection, while Mackenzie Rechner, who also will be a senior in the fall, earned honorable mention recognition as an outside hitter.
“We’ll look to really get things rolling (with the search) after spring break (ended March 30),” Hauser said.