If she was only known as Whitney Woody, then most people would know her as the new volleyball coach at Grapevine who came over from Burleson Centennial.
But then the shrug of the shoulder is quickly replaced by the wide eyes and the dropped jaw when you learn that Woody is the daughter of former Grapevine volleyball coach Rick Johansen. Yes, it’s that Whitney Johansen.
She’s come home.
Woody, 32, is a Grapevine volleyball lifer. She was the daughter cheering in the stands for her dad’s teams when she was growing up in the 1990s. She was the daughter playing for then-head coach Diane Wilson from 1999-2002.
And through her journey playing at Midwestern State and for her dad in her senior year at Texas Wesleyan, the goal never changed. Woody wanted to coach at Grapevine.
“When I got my first job at [Fort Worth] Arlington Heights, my dad and I talked for a long time,” Woody said. “I told him that I wanted to go back to Grapevine someday. That program has been a part of our lives for so long.
“Every time I walk in that gym, there’s a lot of pride. I see the work the they’re putting in. I’ve been on that floor and I know what it means to play for that program. Now, I’m on the other side coaching.”
With this goal accomplished, another one remains. She wants to win a state championship for this program. Woody may have no better chance than with the 2016 roster she inherits. The program returns 12 letter winners (seven starters) from the 2015 Class 5A Region I finalist team that was one game away from advancing to the state tournament.
Grapevine couldn’t hold a two-set lead over Canyon Randall in the regional finals and wound up dropping the last three games. Woody appreciates this talented this roster because it eliminated her Centennial squad in the area round last fall.
“My dad and I watched them in regional quarterfinals and thought they were going to go to state,” she said. “But when I took the job, he said, ‘Now, you gotta win state.”’
Woody has her own style and developed her own track record of success in six seasons between Arlington Heights and Centennial. He programs have never missed the postseason. But the genesis of how she built her career is through watching her father.
She appreciated the sense of perspective he had for his players because they were surrendering time with their families to play the game. Volleyball may have been the focus, but maintaining relationships long after players left became the reward. That’s what she wants to accomplish at Grapevine for what she hopes will be the last stop in her coaching career.
A setter in high school and college, Woody worked to become a success as a coach. Grapevine didn’t hire her for sentimental reasons, but because she earned it.
However, the feel good emotions are shelved on Aug. 1 when two-a-days begin. There are high expectations for this program that’s always been consistent but not found the blend to reach the state tournament.
Woody understands that. That’s why she pursued this job.
“This is a program that a lot of programs are looking at,” Woody said. “It’s appealing. I’m ready to do this and see what we can do.”
THSCA preseason polls
Coaching school came and left last week in San Antonio with not too much news. Of course, the absence of the all-star games (they were discontinued after 2014) takes some of the excitement out of the event.
However, the Texas High School Coaches Association released its preseason Class 6A and 5A Region I polls. There was plenty Northeast Tarrant County presence. In class 6A, Carroll is No. 4, while Euless Trinity is No. 7. In Class 5A, Colleyville Heritage is No. 7.
Look for the state polls to be released sometime in mid-to-late August.