Bowen named Coach of the Year after bringing title to Spain Park

Published 10:05 am Wednesday, December 1, 2021

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

When she took over as Spain Park’s next head coach in 2014, Kellye Bowen quickly set her sights on leading the Jaguars to a state championship.

Now, the Jags’ head coach has been named the Shelby County Coach of the Year for the second year in a row after leading them to their first championship in school history.

Coming off a Final Four finish at St. James the year before she took over at Spain Park, Bowen knew what it would take, but she also knew getting the team to fight competitively was the first key.

For the next seven seasons, she worked to get the team ready for that stage, and in 2020, the Jags got their first chance at a state championship against crosstown rival Hoover.

However, it was heartbreak in their first trip as the Buccaneers swept the Jags 3-0 (25-15, 25-17, 25-23).

But with most everybody returning for the 2021 season, as soon as they walked off the court from that state championship match, they quickly turned their attention to redemption.

And it led to a historical season.

The Jaguars tore through their redemption path, finishing the season 46-4 overall, beating Hoover in the regional tournament to earn a trip back to the Elite Eight and then sweeping Enterprise, Sparkman and McGill-Toolen en route to claiming their first state championship.

“In August, September, they had one vision, and they played like it,” Bowen said after the win. “I couldn’t be more proud. This is probably one of my favorite teams, not just because of the talent, but just the overall personality and character of this team.”

She also is quick to point the finger away from herself and toward her players for the success of this year’s team.

“Whether it be practice, whether it be games, if something was off, they would be quick to come together and say ‘Hey, this is not what we want and we need to focus,’” she said. “That’s the special part is when you have a team that takes ownership of that team, and that’s what they did.”

In the postseason, starting with the area tournament, the Jags dropped just one set on their path to a state title. They beat teams a combined 24-1 to take the team to the next level.

That is just one of many reasons Bowen has been named the Coach of the Year in the county for the second year in a row. 

“We’ve been chasing this for 10 years,” Bowen said. “We’ve had some special groups, and this group is just really gritty. They had a lot of guts. They fought and fought and fought, and I couldn’t be more proud. I’m not shocked, but it’s a very weird feeling of ‘Ok, we did what we set out to do.’ I knew if they played their best, nobody could beat them, and they proved that.”

Now, she’ll hope to get next year’s team ready to tackle one of the most difficult tasks in sports—repeat as champions.