The North Marion volleyball program welcomed new head coach Jackie Arnold over the offseason, filling the post vacated by Alexa Powell following the conclusion of the 2016 season. Faced with hiring the volleyball program's sixth coach in the past nine years, the Huskies turned to a veteran high school and club coach with more than 20 years of experience at the youth level.
Arnold lives in Hillsboro, but got connected to the North Marion program through her sons' club swimming coach in Canby, who knew that the Huskies had an opening after Powell's departure. Although she was initially hesitant to take the job because of the commute, her apprehension quickly melted away.
"I got to know the girls and the families, and a couple of them played club for me," Arnold said. "I just really saw huge, huge potential of what they could become."
Arnold's resume in Oregon stretches back to 2005 when she moved from Virginia and became the head coach for Liberty High School's softball and volleyball programs, earning Metro League Coach of the Year with the volleyball team in her first season. She stayed at Liberty for four seasons before moving to Wilson High School, giving up coaching softball to focus more on her family, which included her two sons who were becoming strong swimmers.
"I had to give it up because I was doing ASA softball, club volleyball — it was crazy and my kids were getting older and more competitive at swimming."
She later took over the Columbia Christian High School volleyball program, where she earned 1A State Coach of the Year honors for taking the Knights to the state tournament, where they placed sixth overall.
Most recently, Arnold coached at Faith Bible High School, winning Coach of the Year honors in 2015. Though she has coached on and off at the high school level since moving to Oregon, she has always been involved in the game at the club level. Arnold is the head volleyball coach at the 17- and 18-year old level for Northwest Power Volleyball Club, along with Gaston head coach Melodie McMaster.
Prior to moving to Oregon, Arnold coached high school volleyball and softball in Virginia, coached club volleyball in Ohio and Virginia and was inducted into the Ohio High School Hall of Fame for basketball and went on to play basketball and softball at the collegiate level.
Currently, Arnold continues to coach at Northwest Power and also serves as an area director for college scouting service National Scouting Report, where her experience will be beneficial to outgoing North Marion student athletes who wish to continue playing at the collegiate level.
"I'm definitely excited to help in any way I can with the recruiting process and showing them," Arnold said. "If they're a multi-sport athlete and want to do basketball, it doesn't matter which sport. There's a lot of girls at North Marion who can go on and play who haven't in the past. It's exciting."
Arnold joins a North Marion program that has been steadily on the rise over the past half-decade. The Huskies are coming off their best season in more than a decade, going 12-10 last year and 5-5 in the Oregon West Conference to finish one spot shy of advancing to the play-in round of the state tournament.
After winning just one game in 2012, North Marion has increased its win total in each of the past five seasons, going 2-15 in 2013, 8-13 in 2014 and 9-11 in 2015. Last year's 12-win season was the first time since 2007 in which the Huskies finished the season with a record above .500.
Add in the fact that North Marion graduated just two seniors last season and is experiencing an influx of youth in the program at the middle school and high school teams, and Arnold was sold on the program's ability to continue improving over the years to come.
"We had 18 freshmen out for open gym," she said. "It's exciting."