Andrea Rasmussen had seen the success of Barton Community College’s volleyball team from afar.
Rasmussen played at Iola’s Allen County in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Eastern Division under former Barton head coach and athletic director Kurt Kohler — now the head coach at Fort Hays State University.
After her playing days, she worked as an exercise physiologist at Peak Physical Therapy and Wellness in Denver. Longing to become a college volleyball coach since she graduated from high school, Rasmussen jumped at the opportunity when an assistant coach position opened up at Barton four years ago.
“When Kurt was the athletic director, he hired me as an assistant coach,” Rasmussen said. “He was the one that brought me here.”
Last Friday, Rasmussen jumped at the chance when offered the Lady Cougars head post, taking over for the departed Pat Hall.
“It’s kind of been a dream since the time I got here,” Rasmussen said, “knowing how talented Barton always is … having played against them myself in college.
“This is the highlight place to be in the Jayhawk. It’s been great to be able to work my way from the ground up, and it gives me that extra boost of confidence going into the head-coaching job.”
Hall accepted the head post at rival Hutchinson in February. In his one season at Barton last fall, Hall guided the Lady Cougars to a 29-14 record, including 13-1 in the Jayhawk West for the conference crown. They captured their second straight NJCAA Region VI championship while securing a berth in the national tournament.
“Working under Patrick last year was a great opportunity to get even further in depth with skill-base, technique and tactical knowledge,” Rasmussen said. “He has such a great mind for the game, and to be able to learn from him was a great opportunity.
“When he left, he told me that he was hoping that he’d be coaching against me.”
Rasmussen said she is anxious about her incoming recruiting class.
“It’s the greatest part of going to work every day,” she said. “We have four returning freshmen this fall, and we have filled our in-state recruiting class with four other Kansas girls, so we should be pretty well set.
“We are starting over completely fresh with our international recruiting. We’ll have a fresh new crop after the four that we had last year. It will be interesting to bring in some new fresh blood that doesn’t quite understand the program, but highly qualified to work with us.”
Barton Community College
Volleyball 2012 roster
Taylor Littleton, 6-0, middle hitter, Derby High School; Isabel Valdez, 5-10 middle hitter, Wichita Heights High School; Morgan Palenske, 5-8, outside hitter/defensive specialist, Abilene High School; Jasbelle Cruz, 5-10, right side/setter, Humacao, Puerto Rico (Petra Mercado Bougart High School).
Mackenzie Orchard, 5-11, outside hitter, Cheney High School; McKenzie Piland , 5-10, outside hitter, Wichita Heights; Kiah Blau, 5-11, middle hitter, Oberlin (Decatur-Oberlin High School); Jori Mote, 5-9, outside/right-side hitter, Weskan High School; Kiara Rivera, 5-7, Libero, Humacao, Puerto Rico (Petra Mercado Bougart High School).