By Kurt Johnson
Editor’s note – When it came time to select our TOSH girls team coach of the year, the fan vote online at PrepsUtah.com came into play as one coach was the runaway winner in gaining that 50 percent of the consideration. The other half of the decision came down to our evaluation, and since that same coach was at the top of our list as well, the final decision became obvious – The 2015-16 TOSH Girls Team Coach of the Year is Lehi volleyball’s Jamie Ingersoll.
Twelve years ago, Lehi native and Lehi High graduate Jamie Ingersoll took over a Class 3A volleyball program that hadn’t won a region match in five years. A dozen seasons later, Ingersoll completed her run as the head coach of the Pioneers by leading her team into its 10th consecutive state tournament.
Once there, it was time to finally best Lehi’s nemesis, Region 4 rival Pleasant Grove. The Vikings not only took the teams’ meeting in the 2014 state title match, but backed it up by knocking off the Pioneers in both regular season 2015 meetings.
When the rematch came in a second straight 5A state championship matchup, in Ingersoll’s last game on the bench at Lehi, it was an opportunity to dispatch of one last challenge. The Pioneers responded, winning 3-1 to send their coach out a champion.
“We started in 3A and we struggled, we still didn’t win a match,” Ingersoll said. “I feel like we just had the right chemistry at the right time. We had the right athletes, with the right parents and the right coaching staff that first couple of years, and those sophomores that lost every game, they took third in the state when they were seniors. We haven’t missed a tournament since.”
This final season provided one last chance for Ingersoll to work with a group of players with whom she is very close.
“We started club with these girls when they were 12 so we’ve been together for a long time,” Ingersoll said. “Every group’s special for different reasons and this group is special too. We just said we’re going to leave it all on the court. You’re going to get the best of me and I expect the same from you and we’ll see how the dice roll at the end. Every year, I tell myself I’m not attaching myself to the freshmen, and then you love them.”
Ingersoll and 12 years of Pioneers did so much for volleyball in Lehi and they enjoyed one last opportunity to represent their city. It was the ultimate cap to a career for Ingersoll spent building something special.
“I feel like we collectively put Lehi volleyball on the map and that’s something that parents, athletes, coaches have all worked together to make that happen,” Ingersoll said. “I’m proud of that. No one used to talk about Lehi, and now we’re in the talk. There’s an expectation to win and to beat big teams.”
The coach would love to keep sharing her love for this game, but it’s time to turn her attention to family. She will teach at the new Skyridge High School in Lehi beginning in 2016, but will not coach there.
“It really is family,” Ingersoll said. “My husband’s the baseball coach at American Fork, my oldest is 12 and he’s going to junior high and then I’m going to have a 9-year-old and I still have a small one at home, a 3-year-old. My two older ones are getting so heavily involved. I’ve got football practice, 14 baseball games a week. They’re getting harder to shuffle and harder to manage Jarod’s schedule.
“Ultimately, I just think I’ve been coaching everyone else’s kids for so long and I just felt my kids needed a full-time mom. They might want me to go back to coaching… That really came down to family and needing less stress at home.”
Ingersoll will be close enough to keep watching the program she has worked so hard to build, and she will also continue to watch the players who have come through.
“(There are) lots of awesome memories,” Ingersoll said. “We’ve gone through a lot of changes. The relationships are always going to be No. 1. Those relationships are just priceless. I’m proud that I could bring something to this community. The kids in this community, they live in Lehi, they go to Lehi, they just love Lehi.
“They’re not looking for a bigger, better school. They’re not looking for something else. They grew up here and they wanted to play here and that’s all that mattered to them. They could have gone somewhere else, but that didn’t matter to them. They just wanted to stay in Lehi.”