Great skill, hard work, and most importantly great coaching, has led Dillard University’s volleyball team to the regional tournament for the last four years. However, it was not until coach Javonne Butler came aboard that Dillard’s volleyball team began to excel with wins.
"Before I got here they hadn’t won any games, but maybe one. And the first year I got here they made it to the regional tournament and have every year since,"Butler said .
Butler, a native of Wharton, Texas, admits she had never thought about coaching until she was offered her current coaching position at Dillard. In fact, before her coaching days she had spent most of her life on the opposite side of the court.
"I’ve been playing since fifth grade and at first I found it hard to transform from player to coach,? Butler said. With Butler’s four year starter and captain experience at the University of New Orleans, she realized she had developed a knack for two key coaching ingredients – leadership and skill.
Therefore, not only did her leadership abilities as team captain put her on the chart, but her skill level did too.
In addition to her four years of starting, she broke a NCAA keels record of 2,932 in 1992. Along with this accomplishment, she had the opportunity to play overseas in Europe for two years, but later came back to New Orleans because of an injury.
Like most coaches at Dillard, Butler’s duties are not limited to coaching. She is also the assistant intramural director with Elijah Hobley, as well as the teacher of several PE classes. Moreover, she has a husband of eight years and a five-year-old daughter.
"The rest of the time is devoted to coaching; being a mother to those girls, being a sister, being a friend, and everything else to those eleven girls plus four managers and my assistant," Butler said.
Butler also acknowledged the volleyball team’s hard work. There are a total of eleven girls on the team; nine freshmen, one senior and one sophomore. According to Butler, there are approximately 35-40 games in a season and despite being committed to school and often missing quite a bit of class time, the girls are still 16-13. Also, to make sure the girls’ heads stay leveled and that they build off their games, either win or lose, Butler always meets with them after each game to talk about what happened.
Butler also would like the team to get more recognition around the city, "the way Loyola" does.
"We’ve done well all this year, especially for a young team. We’re not asking for favors but we want to be recognized too. We have huge turnouts at our games. We pass out fliers for others to come support us, and we just think [New Orleans’ newspapers and television stations] should put us more in the media and let others know when our games are and if we’ve won or lost," Butler said.
To sum up Butler’s coaching skills, freshman Tawonna Cag said it best.
"She is a great coach who is determined to make the team better, She knows what we can do and it upsets her when we don’t do what we need to do. I also know that any situation you go through she is always willing to help," Cage said.