ALLENDALE, Mich. — With just over one month before the season begins, the Grand Valley State University volleyball program will be welcoming a new head coach.
The announcement comes after Deanne Scanlon, the program's all-time winningest coach, announced her retirement on Tuesday.
"I can't explain it any other way than it just felt right," Scanlon smiled. "Things fell into place and it just felt right."
After 26 seasons, nine Midwest Regional titles and a national championship in 2005, Scanlon announced she was retiring but day one has already hit her hard.
"This morning was tough," she laughed. "I'm always looking forward at who we play next, the next practice, the next recruit, what's next on the agenda and I don't have that anymore."
Scanlon's legacy will remain with the Lakers, however, as her long-time assistant of over two decades, Jason Johnson is named the next head coach.
"That was another reason why everything just felt right when we knew that we could announce him as the next coach immediately, that just completed the story," Scanlon added.
Johnson says it's an emotional roller coaster after landing a dream job but also seeing a great friend walk away.
"It really is mixed emotions of everything," Johnson said. "I'm obviously excited and relieved for the opportunity to take this program and move forward but then it's the oh my goodness we start in three weeks and we have a lot of work to do to put things together and get ready to go."
The Lakers players admit they were caught off guard by the announcement but they're excited for Johnson to take over.
"It's definitely bittersweet but we all love coach," said junior outside hitter Camille Hurta. "She's done so much for the program and for us as players, we're all going to miss her so much but we're all very excited for Jason to take over as head coach and see what he does."
Johnson will become the third head coach in the 52 year history of GVSU volleyball.
He also says he's learned a lot from Johnson over their time together.
It's been a great 20 years together," he added. "I think it's allowed me to grow, she's given me a lot of latitude to take over stuff within the program while she was still here and I've learned how to build a program, how to be successful but doing it with integrity and with a moral compass."
The Lakers will begin the 2021 season on Sept. 3 at a tournament at Colorado School of Mines.