Aust Named Head Volleyball Coach at Columbia High School
By Matt Baide
Across the Cascade Mountains North of Spokane, a small school in Hunters, Wash. will have a flair of Lewis County sports.
Adna alum Morgan Aust has been named the head volleyball coach at Columbia High School.
“It’s really fun, I’m really excited. It’s something I always planned on doing,” Aust said. “I was a little shocked to do it so early in life but nonetheless, I’m very excited and I’ve got a really good group of girls and a lot of really awesome and supportive parents and staff that are super excited about my ideas that I have for the upcoming year.”
Aust played varsity volleyball for the Pirates for four years under head coach Wendie Dotson.
“Wendie Dotson was an amazing coach and she taught me a lot about how to be, not only a leader but how to be a teammate and that’s something I really want to instill in my girls this next year is a lot of cohesion and having that trust in your teammates,” Aust said. “Also being able to step up and be a leader on the team because there’s a huge age range with this group of girls.”
She also has years of experience playing select volleyball, playing in the back row as a defensive specialist.
“I know the fundamentals of being a front row player. I spent one year (playing front row) on my select team, so I do know what I’m talking about when it comes to coaching,” Aust said.
“I don’t exactly have the highest vertical so front row was never really my thing. I do know the fundamentals and I have played all positions but I would say back row is probably more my specialty.”
Mossyrock and Napavine placed second and fifth at the State 2B volleyball tournament last year. Aust hopes to bring the competitive culture from the 2B ranks into her program.
“I loved everything about being a part of the Central 2B League volleyball crew. It was extremely competitive but we had a lot of really talented players that were very humble. There was really good sportsmanship,” Aust said. “That was always something I really admired about all of my teammates as well as my competitors. Volleyball is a big deal in Lewis County. It’s a really big deal and I want to bring that culture over here and make this sport a big deal over here.”
Columbia will have a solid core of returning players and will bring up some eighth graders to fill out a JV and varsity squad, with an estimate of 20 girls trying out for the team.
“Last year, there wasn’t a huge team. The last couple years, they’ve had volunteer coaches, so it’s been a little bit more laid back where as I’m running a tighter ship than they are used to but I’m pretty fortunate I came from a school not much larger than Hunter’s,” Aust said. “I have really everything dialed in about how I want to run the team and understanding the dynamic of a small school and how important sports are and I think that’s really working on my side.”
Aust does have some coaching experience, coaching fifth and sixth graders through the Adna volleyball program.
“It’s a bit of a difference. You’re dealing with girls that are teenagers and they’ve got a lot going on. They’ve got all kinds of extracurricular activities whereas these little kids are just stoked to be there,” Aust said. “It’s going to be a bit of a dynamic change but I’m really excited. I think that being younger and having that understanding of where they’re at in life right now is going to be really fun to be around that group of girls.”
The first practice for volleyball season is Aug. 20, and Aust plans on hosting at least seven open gyms as well as a midnight madness practice, inspired by her time at Adna under coach Dotson.
Even after the season, Aust hopes to host youth camps and take the team to collegiate volleyball camps to keep their skills honed year-round.
Aust hopes to have her team get a taste of 2B competition at some point this season, whether watching or competing against.
“I would love to get to bring my girls over to where I’m from to show them the type of competition that I’m used to. I have a plan to hopefully bring my girls to the Sundome this next fall if we’re not lucky enough to make it there ourselves,” Aust said. “I really want them to see a couple 2B games and see where that level of competitiveness is at. It would be really fun to play a team from the west side.”
For her first year at the helm, Aust hopes to win, but also build relationships with her players as well as bring the team closer together for future seasons.
“I think really my goal for this first year is to build that bond with my players because a lot of them are younger so I’ll pretty much be coaching them through their entire high school career but getting to show those juniors and seniors who maybe haven’t had the same kind of experience that I was lucky enough to have,” Aust said. “Giving them that structure of having a really goal driven sport and having a really cohesive team is one of my biggest goals this year and show them what volleyball really can be if you have the right tools to do it.”