CG alum returns as Girls Volleyball head coach


Trevor Magnusen, Staff Writer

A familiar face can be seen at volleyball games this year: Jennifer (Gandolph) Hawk, a player who led CG to their first volleyball state title in 2000. However, she’s not here to play, but instead she’s here to coach. 

Hawk, Class of 2001, has been playing volleyball since she was six years old. She spent four years playing at CG and another four at the University of Michigan, where she was part of the Wolverines’ 1,000 Kills and Digs Club. 

After years as a player, Hawk began a coaching career. She was an assistant coach at the University of New Orleans, University of Georgia and Samford University and was head coach at Archbishop Chapelle High School in New Orleans, Louisiana. Before returning to CG, she was head coach at Perry Meridian High School for four seasons. This season, she has led the team to a 21-8 record with a varsity team containing only two seniors. 

Returning to CG has taken Hawk down memory lane.

“It’s been fun. There are a lot of familiar faces, obviously a lot of new teachers and coaches around, but some were around when I played here so that’s neat to see them still here 21 years later. Just to be back in the gym and helping to build back to where we were from when I played here that long ago,” Hawk said.

Hawk said her history with the program at CG makes her very familiar with the facilities and expectations.

“It’s what I’ve always been used to. Playing in college, coaching–winning has been a mindset and working hard to get there. Being around here, every sport is like that,” Hawk said.

Hawk said she prefers to lead by example both on and off the court. She wants to teach her players to become better people and better players. 

“She shows us what to do; she doesn’t just tell us, so when we’re doing drills she shows what to do and not just expect we know what we are doing. She also likes to talk us through everything, and we do film which is really nice because we get to see our opponents and see how they match up toward us,” sophomore player Sheridan Young said. “She teaches us how to be a good teammate and definitely how to be a good person and caring about others.”

Hawk brings high expectations for her players.

“If you’re not going to the best of your abilities, why do it at all? I expect that out of them each day, and I know you’re going to have off days, but still giving your max effort is all that you can really ask for,” Hawk said.

Hawk is optimistic about the future of the program. With only two seniors on varsity, and six underclassmen on varsity, Hawk has inherited a young team that is already competing at a high level. She was in a similar situation when she entered into this program as a freshman.

“When we came in as freshmen, we were in the mindset of building the program, and by the time we were seniors, we won state. I really think it helped raise the standard for the volleyball program here, and I think it’s continued, just having fallen short of achieving the state title again. The expectation is still there every year,” Hawk said.

Hawk cares about her players and strives to have a good relationship with them. Her players reflect this by thinking of their team as a family. 

“She’s very one-on-one so she likes to have personal connections with each of us, and she likes to joke around with all of us. She’s really caring about all of us, and she cares about us as one big family,” Young said. 

To her players, Hawk is not just a coach, but a role model. Her players are inspired by her success, and while they know it will be hard to achieve that level of success, it can be done. 

“I think it is amazing to know that it (playing college volleyball) is do-able, and anybody can do it, even myself, and that we can win state, which would be awesome because it would be only the second time this school has done that,” Young said.