By Josh Hall
Becky Justis left coaching following the 2013 season at Ozark High School so she would have the opportunity to watch her daughters play volleyball at the collegiate level.
After Bridget, who played at McNeese State, and Brianna, who played at Evangel, wrapped up their college careers last season, Becky was ready to get back in the coaching game.
She got that opportunity in April when she accepted the job at Galena.
“I just figured if that door was meant to open when they were done with their college careers, it would,” Becky Justis said at the Licking Tournament on July 13. “This door came wide open and it’s kind of like I haven’t missed a beat to come back into coaching. I’m really, really excited.”
Justis was last the head volleyball coach at Ozark from 2001 to 2013. During that time, she compiled a 348-110-23 record to go along with a 2009 state championship, seven Central Ozark Conference titles and six district championships. Justis has taken five teams to the Final Four and has coached six All-American players, two Gatorade Missouri Players of the Year and one Prep Volleyball National Player of the Year.
Justis was asked to coach a club team that competed nationally last winter. She knew then she wanted back in the game.
“From that, I knew I still had the passion and the drive and the love to come back and coach if the door opened, and it did,” Justis said. “I just knew I still had it.”
Justis takes over a Galena team that went 13-12-2 last season after falling to Blue Eye in a Class 1 District 7 semifinal.
The 2009 Class 4 coach of the year met with her team for the first time in May when she held a meeting to discuss expectations. A few weeks later, Justis was working on conditioning drills and in June the Lady Bears were playing in a league at Hillcrest.
“In getting to watch them just play, I’ve talked to them a lot about what could happen if they decide to buy into the process and buy into what it’s going to take to be a great team,” Justis said. “There’s got to be some changes made, and they just have to trust in the process. They’ve got to believe and trust in the process. I think it can happen. It’s going to be a lot of work. Success doesn’t come easily, it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a lot of work.”
Galena loses three seniors from last year’s team in middle hitter Bailey May, defensive specialist Haleigh Mathewson and libero Ashlee Greenway, who has continued her playing career at Hannibal-LaGrange.
Returning are seniors Megan Caulfield (middle), Mary Yocum (outside), Jadyn Green (setter), and junior outside hitter Tatum Johnson.
New to the mix is Lexi Miller (freshman middle), Jaelyn Cutbirth (freshman setter), Madison Mathewson (junior libero) and Britney Doucey (sophomore right-side hitter).
“I have some kids that are willing to work, so if they’re willing to put forth the effort and have great attitudes, I think great things can happen,” said Justis, who is assisted by Brooke Villa and Ryan Lacson.