Spain Park volleyball coach Kellye Bowen leaves to become Jasper coach

Published 3:20 pm Thursday, December 7, 2023

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

After a legendary career at the school she has called home for a decade, Spain Park’s Kellye Bowen is going back to her hometown to pursue a new challenge.

Jasper High School officially announced Bowen as its new varsity volleyball coach and assistant athletic director on Wednesday, Dec. 6.

“This is a bittersweet goodbye because I love Spain Park with all my heart,” Bowen said. “It’s been one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. 4700 Jaguars Drive has been my home for 10 years and I will always be grateful for the people who gave me the opportunity to coach.”

Bowen exits Spain Park after a successful tenure that saw the Jags become a perennial power not just in the Birmingham area, but in the state.

She came to Hoover in 2014 after a successful playing career at Mississippi State and two seasons at St. James where she reached the Elite 8 both times.

After years of building up the program, she led the Jags to four straight area championships from 2020 to 2023. The Jags also reached the Class 7A super regionals five times, first in 2018 and then in each of the last four seasons.

Bowen has guided her team to the Elite 8 in Birmingham in 2020, 2021 and 2023, reaching the Final 4 and state championship game in 2020 and 2021. After finishing as a runner-up in 2020, Bowen reached the mountaintop and earned Spain Park’s first state volleyball championship in school history in 2021.

Bowen earned the Shelby County Coach of the Year award in both 2020 and 2021, and during the state championship season in 2021, she also took home the AHSADCA NFHS State Coach of the Year, Super All-State Coach of the Year, AVCA Region of the Year and OTM Coach of the Year.

All of those accolades came as a result of hard work building the program, but Bowen recognizes none of it would have been possible without Spain Park and Hoover City Schools taking a chance on a young upstart coach.

“Hiring a 24-year-old to build a program is risky,” Bowen said. “(Former Spain Park AD) Patrick Kellogg took that risk, and I am thankful for him and all the administration that has come along to support our program. I’m thankful for (former Spain Park principal) Mr. Giangrosso, (current principal) Dr. Esslinger and (athletic director) Josh Donaldson for all their support over the years. We started in 2014 from everyone scheduling us for a guaranteed win to being one of the most resilient programs who won its school’s first volleyball state championship.”

Before she became a successful college player and coach, however, Bowen grew up in Jasper and had a legendary career at Curry High School.

She was an All-State athlete in volleyball, basketball and softball. On the volleyball court, she has the second-most kills in state history with 2,697, which helped her at the time become the youngest female athlete in the Walker County Hall of Fame.

But more than any of that, Jasper is home to Bowen and she wants to give her children the opportunity to call it home as well.

“Everyone will ask, ‘why are you handing over keys to an established program?’ and I will give you one word–family,” Bowen said. “The older I get, I still want to win, and I’m one of the most competitive people you will ever meet, but you only get once chance to raise your kids. Jasper is a great school system with great people. I’m looking forward to working in the town that built the foundation of the person I am today.”

While Bowen is excited for the new opportunity, she said it was hard to leave Spain Park when it had become another home for her. She is grateful for the relationships she has built along the way and will continue to support her former players and their families.

“Spain Park is family, and I’ve been blessed with the best parents, coaches, trainers, coworkers and, most importantly, players,” Bowen said. “My players and parents mean so much to me, and the memories we’ve made are priceless. They will always be family no matter where I am coaching.”