After a dominant three-year run in Class A behind a stellar senior class, the Novi volleyball team was going face some challenges entering the 2018 season and the switch to Division 1. Those challenges got even bigger last week when…
After a dominant three-year run in Class A behind a stellar senior class, the Novi volleyball team was going face some challenges entering the 2018 season and the switch to Division 1.
Those challenges got even bigger last week when head coach Jennifer Cottrill elected to resign in order to spend more time with her family.
“I am going to enjoy being a parent and living a normal lifestyle for a little while,” Cottrill said of her decision.
The six-year coach of the Wildcats racked up 292 wins for the school, reaching the state finals the last four years while claiming the 2015, 2016 and 2017 Class A state titles.
The decision wasn’t easy for Cottrill, as she needed some time after the season to really think about the time commitment in the fall. With three young kids, her ability to balance being a mom and being an effective head coach was being tested.
In recent weeks, she made the decision alongside her husband, Ricky, to leave the Novi program.
“Ricky and I aren’t from (Novi) and don’t have any family here, but we both felt like the Novi community was our family. It was an extremely difficult decision, but we just felt like we couldn’t have someone else raising our kids for four months of the year while we are out coaching,” Cottrill said. “The kids are getting older and starting to have their own activities and they get home and we are gone all night. You just have to step back and prioritize life. Our kids are the most important thing to use and we have to put that ahead of anything else.”
Both Jennifer and Ricky work with the Legacy Volleyball Club and those roles won’t change.
“We are going to continue our work with Legacy. We are coaching two teams right now and it has also been a challenge, but a different challenge. There is a lot of weekend travel, but practices are just twice a week so that’s easier to manage and you get to spend most of the week at home with the family,” she said.
A college player at Eastern Michigan University, Cottrill began her coaching career in 2003 and has spent time leading the programs at Ypsilanti Lincoln, Pinckney, Lakeland and Novi. She has amassed 528 wins in her high school career.
Just this past season, Cottrill led Novi to a 56-3 record that ended with a state championship win over Marian. The Wildcats were led on the court by the Miss Volleyball winner and current Michigan Wolverine, Erin O’Leary.
Cottrill was named a finalist for the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Nation Coach of the Year for volleyball for the success the Wildcats had in 2017.
“I don’t coach to win. That’s not been my motivation. While it is always nice to win and it does makes things easier when you do win, it was always about giving my best to the kids and seeing them develop and grow as players and as people,” Cottrill said.
“It’s great to see the hard-work the girls put in pay off in terms of the success. As a coach, the wins helped my confidence as a coach. Sometimes when things aren’t going well and a player isn’t comprehending what you are trying to teach or the team chemistry just isn’t right, you start to doubt yourself as a coach. The fact that our players were able to trust me and respect my system, it gave me confidence to know that what I am doing is working and that I am going to keep doing it.”
Novi has yet to name a replacement for Cottrill.