Time will determine whether USF athletic director Michael Kelly made a home-run hire Thursday. But it’s most certainly a home-based one.
Jolene Shepardson, who led Tampa Prep to consecutive state volleyball titles in the late 1990s as Jolene Patton, has been hired as USF’s new volleyball coach. Patton, who later helped the University of Tampa reach the Division II national title match before transferring to USF, spent the previous six seasons as coach at San Jose State.
She replaces Courtney Draper, dismissed after going 117-135 with one postseason appearance in eight years.
"I am really excited to have Jolene leading our program and am thrilled to welcome her back to USF and her family to the Bulls family," Kelly said in a USF news release.
"Not only does she have tremendous ability and a track record of building programs and maximizing student-athletes' potential, but she has a deep and passionate connection to this university, our volleyball program and the bay area. We are very excited for the future of USF volleyball."
A married mom of four, Shepardson compiled a 72-105 record at SJSU. Her first Spartans team won only four matches in 2014, but the ’17 and ’18 teams went 17-12 and 16-11, respectively.
In her first head coaching gig, at Cal State Bakersfield, she inherited a program that went 0-31 in 2010 and watched the Roadrunners’ victory total increase each of the next three seasons. The culmination was a 21-12 record (and second-place WAC finish) in ’13.
At USF, Shepardson helped lead the Bulls to Conference USA regular season co-championships in 2000 and ’02, both of which ended with NCAA Tournament appearances. A 5-foot-11 hitter, she ranked second on the ’02 team with 416 kills, 35 service aces and 377 digs.
Before that, she was named Sunshine State Conference Freshman of the Year at UT in ’98, and helped the Spartans to a national runner-up finish the following season.
She capped her sparkling high school career with 361 kills and 55 blocks as a Tampa Prep senior in ’97, leading the Terrapins and legendary coach Carol Chalu to their second consecutive state crown.
“I couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity to be back in the bay area leading my alma mater here at USF,” Shepardson said in the news release. "My heart beats with pride for USF. My vision for our program is to attract student-athletes that have a passion for the game and a love for their team.”