25 years of coaching volleyball

Darren Josephison’s volleyball coaching career began on his first teaching job in 1988 in northern Saskatchewan

Darren Josephison

Darren Josephison’s volleyball coaching career began on his first teaching job in 1988 in northern Saskatchewan, where he coached the Sr. Boys team. After that he spent two years as the football coach in Sexsmith, AB and with a record of 1-11, it was obvious to him that he should return to volleyball. It was in Sexsmith that he met his future wife Nicole, who followed him to his next teaching job in Chauvin, AB. His first five years in Chauvin saw Josephison become the school’s vice-principal while coaching the Sr. Boys volleyball team; at that time, he vowed he would never coach girls’ volleyball. But one weekend the Sr. Girls coach got sick, so he had to fill in for a tournament. The enthusiasm and passion the girls’ team displayed changed his mind forever. Josephison spent his last year in Chauvin coaching the girls’ team, before moving to Mannville in 1996, which now included daughters Alexandra and Kennedy. In the four years spent in Mannville, Josephison coached the Sr. Girls volleyball team, and in his last year, started up his first club team.

Coach Josephison and his family moved to Ponoka in 2001 and he has been coaching school and club volleyball ever since. His first four years were spent at PCHS as the coach of the JV Broncs girls’ team. He learned a lot while there from long time sr. coaches JP Desaulniers and Ron Labrie, in terms of teaching skills, game strategy, and positive interactions with players. Josephison had hoped to move up to the Sr. Broncs team eventually, but due to budget cuts, he lost his teaching position at PCHS in the spring of 2006. Luckily for Josephison, St. Augustine School had just opened its doors to a high school program in the fall of 2005 and were looking for some experienced teachers and coaches. So he took a job at St. A’s and began coaching volleyball, not high school, but with the grade 8/9 team, which was an eye opening experience. Eleven girls tried out and all made to the team, even though only few had knee pads and shoes, including a combination of dance and skateboard apparel. Needless to say, it wasn’t record breaking season as they only won two or three matches the whole season. Regardless of that, he has always said they were some of the nicest kids he had ever coached. Some of them, eventually became great high school players and two went on to play college volleyball.

In his first year in Ponoka, Josephison also became involved with the Ponoka Warriors club volleyball program which had been started by JP. Desaulniers. It became obvious to him, very quickly, that every successful school program was the result of strong club program. So, after the first less than stellar season at St. A’s, Josephison said he was determined to turn St. As Queens volleyball into a respected program, one that could rival PCHS. In order to achieve this goal, he tried to get as many school kids involved in the Warriors club. With the help of many other local coaches, the Warriors program blossomed to a point where, in several years, they had U13, U14, U15, U16, and U17 teams. From 2001-2013 Warriors teams won four Provincial Championships and numerous gold, silver, and bronze medals at nationals. He was fortunate enough to coach his daughter Alexandra on several of these teams.

After coaching three years of Jr. Queens at St. A’s, in which they won two 2J Wolf Creek Championships and one CWAJHAA Championship, Josephison moved up to the Sr. Queens. The Queens eventually won the 2008 2A Area Championship, and placed an impressive third place at Zones. The following year they won their first 2A league title and had a third place finish at Zones. In 2010, the Queens program continued to get stronger, this time getting Silver at the 1A Zones. In 2012, the Queens again hosted the 1A Zones and looked poised to move on to Provincials, only to settle for Silver in the final. 2013 was all about getting back to the Zone finals and Josephison feels his team this year used that experience to win the tougher 2A league title and then propel themselves to their first ever 2A Zone Championship and an appearance at Provincials. He’s very proud that St. A’s is now known as one of the top volleyball programs in central Alberta.

Other than finally making to it Provincials, Josephison has said he is most proud of getting to coach his daughter for three years of high school and of the fact that several players have gone on to college and university careers, the most recent being Kaitlin Lomas, who is playing for Thompson River in the CIS against the U of A and U of C teams. When asked how many more years he will coach volleyball, Josephison has said he is unsure, but still has many things to learn about the game from other coaches and especially his players. His philosophy that he tries to instill in his players is that “winning isn’t everything, wanting to is”. It’s all about working hard to get better and trying your hardest when you get to play. Everyone thinks that he is so passionate about volleyball, but for him it could be any sport, it’s just about creating opportunities at the school for students have fun, create school pride, develop a sense of community spirit.

— From Good News of St Augustine