Volleyball coach teams up with former player

Rachel Rees is in her first year as an assistant volleyball coach at Missouri Southern.

Born and raised in the small town of Houston, Mo., volleyball has always been her passion. 

Rees started playing volleyball around fourth grade. She played varsity all four years of high school and went on to play one semester of college at William Woods University and then finished her career at Evangel University. At Evangel she was a three-time Academic All-American and a starting setter all four years.

“At Evangel I really developed my love for the game as I was blessed with amazing teammates and a couple very successful seasons,” Rees said. “I’ve always had an extremely competitive side, and I almost hate to lose more than I like to win and that is part of what motivated me in college. Also, seeing my teammates and coaching staff work so hard motivated me to continue to push myself harder.”

Rees also played seven years of club volleyball for the Texas County Spikers, where she played setter and outside-hitter. 

The purpose of club volleyball is to help players get more experience and to develop a stronger understanding of the game.  Typically, if an amateur athlete wants to pursue becoming a college athlete, playing club ball is what will set them apart and will help them prepare for playing at a higher level. 

Rees heard about the position opening here at Southern through last year’s assistant coach Austin Warrens, who left to take a head coaching position at Camdenton High School. 

Trish Knight, the Head Coach at Southern, coached Rachel all seven years in club. 

“I am very excited to have Rachel join our staff,” Knight said. “I’ve known her since the sixth grade. You never think you’ll be coaching long enough to have kids that are as young as she is, to come in and be your assistant coach. When you get an assistant, you want someone who knows your system and has loyalty.” 

In the future, Rees plans on finishing her master’s degree in education. She took this semester off because she knew it was going to be hectic but plans on continuing taking classes next spring. Rees hopes to continue coaching and help turn this program around despite having the record 0-23, 0-11 MIAA.   

“It’s tough to keep the girls motivated when we are struggling, but this is a great group of girls and they honestly have improved so much since the beginning of the season,” she said. “They are a hardworking group of girls and it keeps me motivated when I see them do something they haven’t done before or finally get something accomplished that they’ve been working all season on.”

Rees says her parents had a great influence on her. Her mother always tried to get her to see the bright side of things, and her father pushed her to always work hard and to never give up. Now, her son influences her.

“He has so much life and character,” Rees said. “Even when I have a bad day, he can always make me laugh and always keeps me from getting too down on myself.  I think everybody should get a chance to hang out with him.”

Rees is engaged to marry Dustin Kirkman on Nov. 24 of this year.