Jamie Pennington missed some of his daughter’s volleyball games last year. He was the head coach at Christian Community School while his oldest child, Reese, played for East Robertson High School.
This season, they get to be together.
East Robertson recently tabbed Jamie Pennington as its head volleyball coach. He joins Reese, a junior who earned District 8-A Tournament MVP and All-Region 4-A honors last season, when the Lady Indians advanced to the TSSAA Class A sectionals under interim coach Connie Caldwell-Rogan.
Jamie Pennington’s other two daughters – Katie (eighth grade) and Allye (sixth grade) – will play for the East Robertson Middle School volleyball team.
“I’m pretty (invested) in the school and want the volleyball program to do well,” he said. “It was a tough decision, but I decided to depart CCS and come over to East. I’m excited to be here.”
Jamie Pennington spent the last two seasons at CCS. The Lady Colts won the Middle Tennessee Athletic Conference title in 2018 and finished as the runner-up in 2019, their lone loss coming in the championship game.
Before that, Pennington coached the Portland West Middle School team for four seasons. His team won the Sumner County Middle School Volleyball League three of those four years.
Some of the players he coached went on to be key contributors for Portland High School’s back-to-back Class AA state championship teams in 2017 and 2018. Portland was the state runner-up last season.
“When I went to Portland, I realized the type of volleyball culture that they have,” Pennington said. “It was a real neat situation. I was blessed to have that opportunity.”
Pennington hopes to build a similar culture at East Robertson, and he wants to take the program to its first-ever state tournament. The Lady Indians have advanced to at least five sectionals, including three in the last four years, but have yet to push through to Murfreesboro.
“I would like to see East Robertson get over the sectional hump,” he said. “They’ve kind of gotten stopped there. I would love to see us get over that and make it to state.”
East Robertson held just one practice before the dead period as Pennington scrambled to settle into the job. The schedule will ramp up with a team camp at White House Heritage July 6-8. Gallatin and Springfield are also set to participate.
“That will throw us right into the fire from the beginning,” he said. “After that, we’ll start practicing through July. We’re going to play some tough competition and some really big teams. That will be good for us.”
However, it’s unclear if volleyball season can start on time in mid-August or if schedule adjustments will have to be made. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee extended his emergency declaration to Aug. 29, limiting contact sports and keeping most gatherings under 50 people.
“I feel like that’s all up in the air,” Pennington said. “We’re moving forward like we are going to have a season. This is just my opinion, but I think we will have a season. I just don’t know what that will look like yet.”