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Canyon grad leads Austin Peay

Janicek off to good start as a college head coach

Posted: October 6, 2010 9:44 p.m.
Updated: October 7, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Canyon High graduate Haley Janicek Canyon High graduate Haley Janicek
Canyon High graduate Haley Janicek

Sometimes, you just have to be in the right place at the right time.

Haley Janicek certainly was earlier this year when she was named women’s volleyball head coach at NCAA Division I Austin Peay State University.

At just 23 years old, Janicek, a former Canyon High standout, was named head coach of the program after spending one year as an assistant. This came less than six years after she was named The Signal’s 2004 All-Santa Clarita Valley Girls Volleyball Player of the Year.

Back then, she was known as Haley Larsen.

“I think the reaction initially, right away, was, ‘Wow this is going to create chaos,’” Janicek said of her first days as head coach.

She’s getting a little more respect these days, as her team sits at 14-4 overall, 5-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference.

After successful volleyball careers at both Canyon and the University of Idaho, Janicek said coaching has been her toughest challenge yet, especially when it comes to managing egos.

“As a player, it’s easy,” she said. “I think that athletes are the most selfish people in the entire world. This is coming from me as a player.”

Her senior year at Canyon, Janicek led the Foothill League with 196 kills and was part of a Canyon team that made it to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.

Her prowess in high school earned her a chance to play at Idaho, where she set the program record for all-time kills and was twice named to the All-Western Athletic Conference first team.

She met her husband, Matt, while she was a junior at Idaho.

A year after that, she was sitting around talking to her college coaches at a senior barbecue when the subject of coaching came up. It turned out one of the assistant coaches at Idaho knew the head coach at Austin Peay, which happened to be located where she was moving.

After Janicek married Matt in May 2009, the two moved to Clarksville, Tenn., which also is home to Fort Campbell, where Matt was stationed with the Army.

Through her connection, Janicek got a job as former head coach Mike Johnson’s assistant in 2009.

The two worked well together because of similar coaching philosophies when it came to the speedy offensive scheme.

“Both Mike and I came from teams that emulated more West Coast systems,” she said.

At the end of the season, Johnson took a job as Xavier University’s head coach, and the door was open for Janicek, who now balances her life as a head coach and a wife of a Lieutenant, who is currently serving a tour in Afghanistan.

“The thing I realized as an assistant is how much work is involved,” she said. “I think people assume a coach’s life is simple. You just show up to practices and hang out on the bench.”

In reality, it involved a lot more than that, but Janicek took comfort in one statement her former coach at Canyon, Dave Gutierrez, made shortly after she took the position at Austin Peay.

“He told me, ‘You’re going to teach these girls a lot more things than I could have ever known,’” she said.


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