By: Sarah Sinelli ’20
After nearly thirteen years, girls tennis coach, Coach Kollman Gerhart is passing down the torch to a first time head coach, Coach Hailey Johnson. Coach Johnson was formerly known as “assistant coach” at Regis Jesuit during the 2017-2018 girls tennis season. Previously she was the assistant boys and girls tennis coach at Heritage High School. Although she is frightened for the upcoming season, she feels prepared and is excited.
Now in her second year at Regis Jesuit, Coach Johnson, a history teacher, will need to learn to balance the rigors of the classroom with the challenges of being a head coach. While she acknowledges that she will need to rely on her colleagues for help and support, she is also confident that she will “know how to balance it. It’s just going to be another step forward.”
Johnson admits that making the transition from assistant coach to head coach will be difficult. Being head coach adds new responsibilities including running practices, deciding on player positions, and having the tough conversations. She says confidently, “The big thing is just now I am at the forefront of the decision making, which has pressure attached to it, but I think that based on my past experiences I am prepared.”
Just as there are many differences between being an assistant coach and a head coach, Johnson has also seen differences between coaching at Regis Jesuit and Heritage. One of the biggest differences is the number of coaches. At Regis Jesuit, there are multiple volunteer coaches to assist, whereas at Heritage there were only two coaches. This seems to have, “changed the dynamic and feeling on the court”, she explains, “if a team is struggling and needs to talk to their coach there is usually somebody that is going to be there for them.”
Another obvious difference between her coaching experiences at these schools is that at Regis Jesuit she is coaching only girls, but at Heritage she coached both girls and boys. It is very different, she says, “the vibe on the court is super different with the boys.”
Over her three years of coaching, Johnson has had her share of highs and lows. Among her best coaching moments are the times she has been able to help her players overcome mental adversity, even if they lose the match. Her most difficult moments have come when watching players lose faith in themselves and their abilities. She believes, “tennis is such a mental sport that we as coaches can only say so much to a player to try to get his or her’s mental state back up and running where it should be.”
Of course the rewarding moments outweigh the challenging ones.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for Coach Johnson in her new role will be living up to the legacy of Coach Kollman. She admits she is nervous about this, but at the same time is excited and grateful for the opportunity. Johnson sees her most important goal as, “carrying on the tradition of excellence at Regis and winning.” Feeling prepared for the season, she smiles, saying, “ I’m already inheriting something that is so amazing and that is a pretty incredible feeling.”