Yelm Community Schools hired Molly O’Hagan, a former pro volleyball player, as the head coach for Yelm High School’s upcoming fall 2021 volleyball season.
O’Hagan started playing the sport when she was 12. She played collegiate volleyball at California State University, Bakersfield, then played professionally in Germany for a year, after which she coached at her alma mater for three years. In 2019, she played for the University of Nottingham in England.
She moved back to the states during the pandemic, and was working to finish a master’s program last summer where she lives in Spanaway. Her professional life brought her to Yelm Community Schools, in which she has worked at McKenna Elementary this year as a paraeducator.
When the volleyball position opened, she seized the opportunity to coach in the district that she works in.
Her end goal is to teach business and marketing at the high school level in a career and technical education program, which relates to her post-graduate studies.
“I’d like to be in Yelm,” O’Hagan said. “I’d like to be working in the community that I’m also teaching in. … I’m from a small town in Kansas so (Yelm) really gives me that feeling of a tight-knit community, a supportive community. Everyone is really just looking out for the best interests of everybody else.”
O’Hagan said she would love to work with the youth of the community because she has already seen their work ethic.
“It’s just a really hard working area,” she said. “In smaller areas, you have kids that are just hard-working individuals. That was me when I was young. Those were my friends. That’s the feeling and the vibe that I get here in Yelm. It’s a warm, welcoming place to be.”
In the world of volleyball, she hopes to bring Yelm her knowledge and skill that she acquired over her years competing and coaching at the highest of levels.
“I really want to empower these female athletes to give their best and to be successful both on and off the court and prepare them for whatever next steps in life that they’ll be taking,” O’Hagan said.
She uses a certain set of offensive and defensive strategies called the “gold medal squared” system of play in her coaching. It’s the system the U.S. National Team trains under and she feels it would be a good fit for the girls at Yelm High School.
O’Hagan also wants her reach to extend far beyond volleyball.
“Aside from the court, I really want to build a program that’s community-based and gives back and is respected and recognized and appreciated by the community,” O’Hagan said.
She said she hopes to form a group of girls who are committed to the concept of teamwork, hard work, respect and integrity. To foster these things, she will hold weekly meetings where the team will talk out disagreements, solve problems, hone in on their collective needs and focus on all the things that build a resilient, cohesive team.
“Volleyball is a team sport at the most extreme level,” O’Hagan said. “You can’t do anything without anybody else, so really it’s just looking to gain trust and respect between me and the players, and the players and themselves.”
It’s O’Hagan’s goal to be a resource for the girls in any area possible. She will use the lessons she has learned in her career to help them achieve excellence, she said.
“I think sports, in general, just empowers anyone — especially females — to have a platform to really work hard and demonstrate that hard work,” O’Hagan said. “Sports teaches a great deal about responsibility and leadership and problem solving and conflict resolution and those are all really important skills that you can take on to your career and your family and into your relationships.
“So really just being thoughtful, considerate, hard-working people. That’s what sports and that’s what volleyball teaches anyone who participates.”