Newly-hired WVU Volleyball head coach Jen Greeny met with the media for her introductory press conference on Thursday, discussing what brought her to Morgantown after she spent much of the past three decades with Washington State as a player and later head coach. Greeny also dropped hints regarding her vision for turning around a Mountaineers program that struggled to a 16-44 record over the past two seasons, managing just two Big 12 wins.
When Greeny took the head coaching job at Washington State ahead of the 2011 season, the Cougars sat in a similar position, coming off a miserable season and in desperate need of a breath of fresh air. Greeny highlighted the similarities between Pullman and Morgantown: neither located in a traditional recruiting hotbed for the sport, making it difficult to draw in blue chip recruits.
To compensate, Greeny said she adjusted her recruiting philosophy, focusing on bringing in players who could win in her system.
“We’ve never really got the blue chip athlete, but we train really well and have a great team chemistry, and build a culture on that,” Greeny said.
“You don’t always get every single recruit that you really want… so you have to find a way and figure out what the team really needs… you don’t always get what you want, but there are ways to really make your team dynamic and work hard, and work together. So, just trying to fit those pieces together.”
How to Rebuild A Program
Greeny said she also created recruiting hotbeds of her own, looking overseas to acquire European talents in recent years. With the foundations of relationships already in place across the pond, WVU Volleyball could see a boost in international players soon.
“We just needed better and better players, and we weren’t getting those players,” Greeny said.
“So we just kept going east, and then there was water and we had to keep going. But yeah, I think we’ve made unbelievable connections in Europe and so, for sure, we will continue to recruit in Europe, Mexico, Canada. So we will scour the ends of the Earth to find the right volleyball players.”
Regardless of where Greeny found her players or what their expected level of talent was, the positive results are undeniable. Greeny led Washington State to the NCAA Tournament for eight consecutive years to conclude her Cougars’ tenure. Her emphasis on coaching and fundamentals could help kickstart a rebuild, as could the advent of the transfer portal—which didn’t exist when Greeny took over in Pullman. No matter if she brings in her former players who took Washington State to the Sweet Sixteen this year or if she searches elsewhere when bringing in new talent, it’s easier to rebuild a program now than it was a decade ago… especially because Greeny has established herself as one of the nation’s premier coaches during that time.
“People that want a change, want that challenge right away, maybe want to come in and play or make a difference on a team… you just know so many more recruits at this stage of the game,” Greeny said. “Hopefully it’ll take me and us maybe a little bit less time to get back to the NCAA Tournament.”
Why West Virginia?
Greeny mentioned Mountaineers’ Athletic Director Wren Baker and his vision for the program as a major factor that helped persuade her to leave her alma mater for WVU Volleyball.
“The biggest thing for me is Wren Baker, and the vision that he has for West Virginia athletics and volleyball in particular,” Green said. “We love building programs, we’ve done it twice… it’s exciting, it’s a challenge, the Big 12 is an exciting place to be.”
She again highlighted the similarities between Morgantown and Pullman, namely the sense of community that she feels will help her and her family settle in following the cross country move.
“I think Morgantown is a great place to do that. Just being there for a short amount of time, the people there were incredible,” Greeny said.
“What we’ve always really loved about Pullman—which I think is similar in Morgantown—is that you go to a restaurant, you go to the grocery store, you’re out and about and people recognize you as a student-athlete, as a volleyball player, they say ‘great match last night, it’s fun coming to watch you.’”
Making WVU Volleyball Like Family
That close-knit, familial atmosphere has been a point of emphasis for Greeny throughout her professional career, whether it was her ties to Washington State or her husband joining her as a member of the recruiting staff.
“We really sell that, because we really believe that it’s true. My husband and I do work together, in the past we’ve also had a former teammate of mine,” Greeny said. “Just creating that family atmosphere, I think, is really, really important, and creating that culture.”
Last, but certainly not least, Greeny touched on the impact the breakup of the Pac-12 held on her career outlook. With Washington State left on the outside looking in, she began to float her name out in job searches.
“ I think with the uncertainty, of course, of the conference, the Pac-12, now not being there, it’s tough, and that uncertainty in this profession is hard,” Greeny said. “We also graduated a lot seniors… kind of the perfect time to find a new challenge.”
Watch Greeny’s full press conference below.
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